Tennesseans set to receive "unemployment benefits on steroids"

Posted at 2:38 PM, Mar 30, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-30 15:38:24-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Millions of Americans are now out of work because of the coronavirus. But help is on the way. One lawmaker refers to that help as "unemployment insurance on steroids."

Here's with what you need to know to get your benefit.

Millions of people have at least temporarily lost their jobs leading to a huge spike in claims for unemployment benefits. Some online sites nationally have crashed and good luck getting anyone on the phone.

But, once you do apply and qualify, you're in for a boost.

Compared with other states Tennessee's unemployment benefits rank near the bottom -- a max of 275-dollars a week. But under the two-trillion-dollar federal stimulus plan approved over the weekend you can add to that a six-hundred-dollar a week supplement.

"This money is going to go into the economy very quickly and it is going to help American workers very quickly" said US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin. He said the six-hundred-dollars will come on top of what you get from the state's sliding scale and that enhanced federal payment will extend for up to four months.

So, what does this mean for you?

Let's say you qualify for the average Tennessee benefit of $225 per week.

You add that $600 and your take home is now $825 per week.

The stimulus plan also expands who qualifies to include independent contractors, gig workers and the self-employed. They can apply to receive half the average state unemployment benefit and the extra federal $600 per week.

"We have liquidity to put into the American economy to support workers and businesses," said Mnuchin.

You need to go online to apply. If you qualify based of your employment history the benefit should begin arriving in a matter of days.

A disclaimer here: There are sure to be problems and more questions.

Even those within the Tennessee Department of Labor are still digesting the details.

But, if you lost your job and think you qualify, then apply as soon as possible.


See all our coronavirus coverage here


What is COVID-19 (a.k.a. the new coronavirus?)

According to the World Health Organization, coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases. Examples include the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV)and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV). A novel coronavirus (nCoV) is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans. COVID-19 stands for "Coronavirus disease 2019," which is when this strain of the coronavirus was discovered.

What are the symptoms?

The CDC says patients confirmed to have the 2019-nCoV reportedly had mild to severe respiratory illness with:

  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing

Or at least two of the following symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Repeated shaking with chills
  • Muscle pain
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • New loss of taste or smell

At this time, the CDC believes symptoms could appear as soon as two days after exposure, or as long as 14 days.


The CDC is recommending "common sense" measures such as:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face cover when around others.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.