90,000 Tennessee unemployment claims remain in pending status

Posted at 8:48 PM, Jan 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-21 22:44:25-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — A total of 90,000 unemployment claims in Tennessee remain in pending status. The Tennessee Department of Labor & Workforce Development (TDLWD) shared their findings with NewsChannel 5 Thursday morning, shortly after their weekly unemployment report.

In their email, they explained how nearly 25,000 of those claims mentioned above are either not valid or are duplicate claims, “while as many as 13 percent of the claims require staff to investigate to reduce or eliminate potential fraud.”

That leaves more than 65,000 claims, with people waiting on approval.

We’ve been on the phone back and forth with Ted Foti for the past two weeks. He says his claim is pending, but can’t understand why it’s been 28 weeks without a payment?

“Everything is showing in progress and everything is showing I’m being paid zero dollars. It even shows where I was supposed to get a debit card, but I haven’t even got that yet. I’ve got nothing,” Foti said.

We referred Ted’s claim to state unemployment officials who told us nothing appeared to be wrong. Ted just happens to be one of the thousands waiting on a decision.

Daniel Collis was approved for his benefits, but that wasn’t enough for him to see his benefits for the past 17 weeks.

“They look at your claim and they’re like keep filing. That’s not the answer that we’re looking for, because as individuals, we have our lives. We have bills to pay,” Collis said.

Chris Cannon of TDLWD said while some claims can be approved as soon as eight days, “others take significantly longer due to the several different circumstances.”

Cannon described how in January, we typically see an increase in unemployment due to a decline in seasonal work. When coupled with the introduction of a new unemployment program, this led to thousands of pending claims. Thousands of other claims couldn’t move forward in the system according to Cannon, because the claimant needs to provide additional documentation mandated by the U.S. Department of Labor.

“The Department continues to diligently work to process as many claims as possible, quickly as possible, while maintaining the integrity of Tennessee’s unemployment system as directed by USDOL.”

Misinformation from the state’s Jobs4TN site sent many to re-file their claims when they were only meant to certify their claims. Only adding more pressure to correct these issues, before connecting people with the money they’re counting on.

The TDLWD advises that if you do need to reach their offices, you can call 1-844-224-5818, leave a voicemail, send an email or chat with an associate online. You can also “submit a request” at

Unemployment across the state of Tennessee continues to fluctuate. It reached an all-time high of 15.5 percent in April 2020 and is currently 3 percentage points higher than the state’s pre-pandemic unemployment rate of 3.3 percent.

Nationally, seasonally adjusted unemployment was unchanged between November and December and held steady at 6.7 percent. Since March 2020, more than 1,021,145 initial claims have been filed.

If you’re looking for a job, check out the more than 230,000 employment listings on the Tennessee Virtual American Job Center: