Appealing a Denied Unemployment Claim: The Process Explained
After your employment has been terminated and you decide to claim benefits from your state’s unemployment insurance program, your application is reviewed by a state agency. Typically your payouts are granted based on your work and salary history.
Sometimes, however, a claim may be rejected, or the benefits you receive may be canceled. In this instance, every state allows you to appeal their decision. Here’s an explanation of the claim appeals process, how to get it started, and what to expect from an appeal hearing.
When Your Claim Is Denied
Your claim may be rejected for a variety of reasons, including:
• Your compensation not meeting minimum state requirements
• Not working sufficient hours
• Resigning from your position without acceptable cause
• Being fired for personal misconduct or criminal activity
In reviewing reasons for the dismissal of your claim, you may determine that some facts in your case were misreported or misrepresented. The agency may also note a discrepancy between you and your former employer’s accounts of why your employment was terminated, or disagreements about your compensation, scope of work or other factors.
In all cases, it’s within your rights to file an appeal to dispute the findings reached or to offer corrections of inaccurate information.
Filing Your Appeal
If you decide to appeal the state’s decision, you should do so quickly. Most states have a deadline for filing your appeal; it’s generally anywhere between 10 to 30 days after you receive your notification of denied benefits. If you file your appeal after the deadline, the state may ask you to explain your lateness, or simply dismiss the appeal altogether.
You also have the option to file your appeal through a state online portal, which is usually the quickest and most convenient way to do so. Be sure to check your state’s requirements, which should be printed somewhere on the state’s notification, along with some instructions on the appeal process.
After your appeal is accepted, the state will schedule a hearing with an administrator or judge to hear your case. Notifications of the appeal hearing will also be sent to parties relevant to your decision, possibly including your former employer, managers, or other witnesses who may have pertinent information.
If your unemployment insurance was canceled in while you were receiving payouts and filing claims, continue to do so while waiting for your appeal to happen. Should the appeals court decide in your favor, you’ll only be able to collect on claims that you filed—so keep that process going while awaiting your hearing date.
The Appeal Hearing
The appeal hearing works very similarly to proceedings in civil court. The judge or administrator will swear you in and ask questions about your case. You'll be allowed to present evidence in your defense, including documentation and your testimony. Should your former employer send a representative to the hearing, they will also have the opportunity to present information to disputes or counters your claim.
You’ll also have the chance to present witnesses on your behalf. They may appear at the hearing in person or supply written statements to support your case. These witnesses may present information that sheds light on disputes between you and your former employer—for example, if they saw your mistreatment or harassment at the hands of your employer, which drove you to quit your job.
You’ll have the opportunity to explain any circumstances beyond your control that you feel should be taken under consideration for resigning from your position—for example, pressing family issues, drastic compensation cuts, unsafe work conditions, or other factors that could be considered justifiable reasons for leaving a job.
After all appropriate parties have presented their cases, the administrator will render a decision. If it’s in your favor, then you’re granted the appropriate benefits according to your state specifications. Your employer has the right to challenge this decision to another appeal, but you may still be able to collect benefits if and until your application is ultimately denied.
If the administrator denies your appeal, you may have the option to petition for another review at the commissioner level. You'll have to submit a letter explaining your disagreement with the appellate judge and to present your case again.