Alabama Appeals Process – What Happens When you’re Denied Benefits?
If the unemployment division denies your application for unemployment benefits, you may file an appeal. You can file an appeal for any reason you find to disagree with the denial of benefits. However, you must file your appeal within 15 calendar days of the mailing date of the notice of denial (7 days if you were notified in person).
In Alabama, you must file your appeal in writing and deliver it by fax or mail.
Alabama Department of Labor
Hearings and Appeals Division
649 Monroe Street, Room 4677
Montgomery, Alabama 36131
Fax: (334) 956-5891
Be sure to sign your appeal letter and include your social security number on your letter.
How to file the appeals claim?
Filing a timely appeal is important. If your appeal is late, the Appeals Division will not hear your appeal. The Division will deny your appeal on a finding of failure to file a timely appeal. If you happen to file late, you may appeal the decision not to hear your claim. However, you must be able to show you had a good reason for being late.
Once you have filed your appeal and the Appeals Division has processed it, they will mail you a notice of the date and time the hearing will take place and the issue to be addressed. In Alabama, these hearings are held by telephone, where both parties call into a telephone number (provided to you) to conduct the hearing.
If you have a conflict with the date or time call the Appeals Division as soon as possible to attempt to reschedule the hearing. You must have a good reason to reschedule, like attending work or dealing with a personal illness.
If you require special accommodations, if you need help with a disability or help getting a foreign language translator, notify the Appeals Division as soon as you can.
An Administrative Hearing Officer will be the judge in the hearing. They are usually trained lawyers. The Hearing Officer will listen to both sides present their case, and ask questions about the testimony. The Hearing Officer will make the decision about the case after the hearing is complete and send notice by mail.
You can have a lawyer or layperson represent you during the hearing. However, this is not necessary. You should be able to collect the necessary information needed for your hearing. Some of the things you will need includes:
- Any written evidence that supports the argument you will make in the hearing.
- Any photographic, audio or video evidence you will present.
- Official documents from your workplace, like time cards, time sheets, dismissal notices, written reprimands, anything you feel will support your case.
You must present these to the Hearing Officer before the hearing. The Hearing Officer must allow both sides to see evidence to be presented in the hearing before it begins. If you cannot get your evidence into the Appeals Division in time, you may not be able to present it during the hearing.
If you want to present testimony from a witness, you must let the Hearing Officer know in advance. The Hearing Officer will decide whether to issue a subpoena to the witness to require their appearance at the hearing, or whether their testimony will be relevant to the hearing.
While this all sounds like a trial you may have seen on television, the hearing doesn’t strictly follow the rules of court procedure. The Hearing Officer has some rules to follow, but has discretion to make certain decisions. This is called a “quasi-judicial” procedure.
Anyone denied benefits upon their first filing of a claim may appeal the decision. Also, employers may appeal approval of an award of benefits. Employers appealing the decision go through the same process. If you are awarded benefits and your employer appeals the decision, you will receive notice of the appeal in the mail. You should be ready to participate in the telephone hearing at the date and time indicated on the notice.
What Can I Expect During the Hearing?
You must call in at the scheduled time for your hearing. If you are late, or miss the hearing completely, your appeal will fail because you didn’t show up. Even if you call in late, the Hearing Officer may consider that your failure to call in on time means you did not intend to participate. The Hearing Officer will deny your appeal because of a “failure to appear.”
If you are a few minutes late, go ahead and call in. The Hearing Officer may wait a few minutes or be delayed themselves. Remember, your employer will be subject to the same rules, so if they are late or do not appear, the Hearing Officer may rule they have failed to appear.
Have all your documents and evidence ready to go. Remember, the Hearing Officer and the employer must have a copy of your evidence prior to the hearing.
The Hearing Officer will discuss procedure with both parties, then begin the hearing, swearing in both parties. Just like a trial, the Hearing Officer will ask both parties to affirm that they will be truthful during the hearing.
- The party filing the appeal will go first. The Hearing Officer will ask questions to try to understand the facts and will then allow the appealing party (the “appellant”) the opportunity to speak.
- All evidence you present and things that you say during the hearing must be relevant to the case. Do not introduce things not related to your dismissal.
- The Hearing Officer will then turn to the appellee and allow them to present evidence and answer questions.
- Then, the Hearing Officer will ask both parties questions until he or she feels there is enough facts available on which to make a decision. The Hearing Officer will dismiss both parties.
The Appeals Division will notify both parties about the outcome of the hearing via mail. During periods of low unemployment, the decisions should come within 7-10 business days. Do not call the Appeals Division until around two weeks has passed.
If your appeal is successful, you will not receive money immediately. You must continue to certify (file a weekly claim) while you wait for the outcome. If you are deemed eligible, you will start to receive benefits on the regular schedule.
Visit the Department’s Unemployment web site