Updated at 4:56 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 18, 2019.
NASHVILLE — The number of federal workers in Tennessee applying for unemployment insurance has more than doubled in the past 10 days as the U.S. government's partial shutdown moves into its fourth week, state officials say.
As of Friday, the number of claims is now nearly 900, according to the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development's Unemployment Security Division.
The department previously reported it had processed 400 claims for federal employee from the start of the shutdown on through Jan. 8. That is now nearly 900 as the impact hits workers furloughed from agencies ranging from the Internal Revenue Service to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Thousands continue working without pay.
And it could take as long as three weeks for the state to make a decision, based on several factors.
Depending on the work requirements for each individual, many federal employees in Tennessee may be eligible for unemployment insurance benefits during the shutdown, state officials said in a news release.
The U.S. Department of Labor has strict requirements claimants must meet to receive benefits, one of which is an unemployed person must be willing and available to work.
Federal employees currently not on the job meet the requirement because they are free to work. Federal employees required to work without pay are not eligible for unemployment benefits because they are not available to work.
If the application for benefits is approved by the state, unemployment claimants must certify online each week they are available to work.
The state is deferring the requirement federal claimants conduct weekly online job searches in order to receive benefits because they are part of a temporary layoff.
Officials say it's important to applicants to know that the first week a person files for benefits is considered their waiting week and the claimant will not receive money.
The earliest a claimant can expect payment is after two weeks of filing certifications. Tennessee officials say that this is the "peak season" for unemployment claims and that, coupled with the federal shutdown, means it could could take up to 21 days to make a determination on an application for benefits.
The maximum weekly benefit in Tennessee is $275, which is subject to federal income taxes.
President Donald Trump recently signed a bill that will provide federal employees back wages once the shutdown ends. Under federal requirements, anyone who receives unemployment benefits while furloughed will be required to repay the state of Tennessee the amount of money they received or risk being in fraud overpayment.
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 the state labor department at 844-224-5818 or they can use the live chat function on tn.gov/workforce Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. CST.