NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development announced Thursday its employees are working extra hours now to process unemployment insurance claims for federal employees affected by the government shutdown.

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The TDLWD Unemployment Security Division's federal unit said it has received nearly 1,000 unemployment claims from federal employees so far -- which was an increase of approximately 100 claims from the previous week alone.

The agency said it now has employees staffed from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, and several employees worked the past Saturday to process the influx of claims in a timely manner.

Another Saturday schedule is planned for this week.

The agency is keeping detailed records from each claim to make sure the repayment process is as smooth as possible when the shutdown ends and employees receive their backpay. 

As of Friday, Jan. 25, the more than 800,000 affected federal employees will have missed two paychecks as a result of the ongoing shutdown -- the longest in U.S. history. The last time most of these employees received their paychecks was on Dec. 28 -- six days after that pay period closed and the shutdown began.

The TDLWD said only federal employees who are not actively working can apply for unemployment. Those who are currently working without pay are not eligible for unemployment -- as they are not available to work. 

The state said it is deferring the requirement for federal claimants to conduct weekly online job searches in order to receive benefits -- as they are part of a temporary layoff. 

"It is important to keep in mind, the first week a person files for benefits is considered their waiting week and the claimant will not receive money," the agency said. "The earliest a claimant can expect payment is after two weeks of filing certifications. Since this is the peak season for unemployment claims, coupled with the federal shutdown; it could take up to 21 days to make a determination on an application for benefits."

Currently, those on employment can receive a max weekly benefit of $275, which is subject to income taxes.

Claimants can complete the application process for Tennessee unemployment insurance on the state’s workforce development website, www.Jobs4TN.gov.

Anyone with questions can call TDLWD at (844) 224-5818 or use the live chat function on tn.gov/workforce Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. CT.

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