Appealing Your Denial of Benefits
Many people who file for unemployment benefits will have their claims denied by the state. Your former employer may also challenge your claim that you are entitled to unemployment benefits. It will be important to follow the proper procedure to appeal your unemployment denial or an opposition by your employer. As always, the specific procedures and processes can vary depending on what state you live in. If you have any concerns regarding the unemployment benefit appeal process you should consult with your local unemployment benefits office.
The Administrative Law Judge Hearing
The first step after a denial or challenge by an employer is to request a hearing before an administrative law judge (in some states you will appear before an unemployment benefits appeals board instead of a judge. For purposes of this article we’ll use the phrase “administrative law judge” to refer to both types of appeals masters). The biggest mistake people make is to wait too long after their unemployment benefits claims are denied to request the hearing. The denial letter will explicitly state how many days you have to make the appeal request. Commonly, the appeals period is approximately 30 days from the date of the denial. Be sure to file the necessary paperwork within the time frame provided.
The next biggest mistake people make when seeking to file an unemployment benefits denial appeal is to fail to properly follow the instructions given to you by your state’s unemployment office in the denial letter. Some states will require certain forms to be filled out and mailed to the unemployment office while other states will ask for specific types of information to be submitted in order for a valid appeal to be made. Read through the denial letter in detail to make sure you follow all of the necessary requirements.
The hearing before the administrative law judge is a somewhat informal process whereby you make your case to show why you are entitled to your unemployment benefits. If you can afford it and feel that it will be beneficial, you can hire an attorney to help you persuade the administrative law judge that you qualify for benefits. During the hearing you will want to present evidence, including witnesses and any paperwork that supports your case.
Increasing Your Chances of Success
There are several common methods you can use to increase the likelihood that you will be successful in receiving unemployment benefits during an appeal before the administrative law judge. First, collect as much supporting documentation as possible. This can include written employer warnings, employment contracts, time sheets, details contained in your employer’s personnel file, medical records and more. You want to attempt to overwhelm the administrative law judge with supporting documentation to make it as difficult as possible to deny you your unemployment benefits.
In addition to collecting as much paperwork as possible to support your case, consider bringing in witnesses to testify before the administrative law judge on your behalf. These witnesses may be former co-workers, bosses, medial professionals or others who can show that you are entitled to your benefits.
Finally, consider hiring an experienced unemployment benefits attorney to appear on your behalf before the administrative law judge. Of course, you’ll have to have a way to pay attorney’s fees to the attorney but he can make a significant difference on whether you qualify for unemployment benefit payments or not. Remember that the hourly rate of the attorney you are considering hiring is negotiable. It never hurts to ask about whether you can have a lower rate than what the attorney normally charges.
Always appear on time and on the correct date for your unemployment appeal hearings. The administrative law judge will almost certainly deny your appeal if you fail to appear at the proper time.
Re-Applying For Benefits
If you are denied by the administrative law judge you can always re-apply for unemployment benefits with the state. You will lose all rights to any accumulated benefits you would have received had you successfully appealed your case before the judge, but a different unemployment state employee may see your case differently than the first employee who initially denied your benefits application.