Connecticut Appeals Process – What Happens When you’re Denied Benefits?
If the Department of Labor denies your initial claim for unemployment benefits, you may appeal the decision to the Appeals Division of the Department. You may also appeal the Department’s decision on the amount you are to receive. You have 21 calendar days after the Department mails you the decision in which to file the appeal. Be sure to note that. It is often where people make a mistake in their appeal. The clock starts running from the date the Department mails the decision, not the day you get it in the mail or the date your roommate handed it to you. If you file after 21 days, the Appeals Division will deny the appeal unless you can show good cause why you were late.
How to file an appeal to a denial of benefits claim in CT?
You must appeal in writing. You can appeal by mail, fax or online at the Department of Labor web site. The web site has the forms you need to file an appeal. You will have to inform the Appeals Division why you are asking for the appeal when you file. You don’t have to go into great detail.
The scheduler will then schedule your hearing and notify you of the date and time. If you find that you have a conflict with that date, try to reschedule immediately. You must show why you need to reschedule. If you have a good reason, like having a class or work scheduled that date, you are likely to get a new date.
How to prepare for an appeals hearing in CT?
The appeals process includes a hearing in front of a Department of Labor official known as a “hearing referee.” They are usually trained attorneys. You may request a telephone hearing or an in-person hearing. You can have an attorney present or you can get a friend to help you, but neither of these are necessary.
The next step in the appeals process is all yours; preparing your case. Think about why you are appealing. Do you believe your employer lied about why you were discharged, resulting in the Department denying you benefits? Consider how you can prove this. Then, you need to gather all the documents and evidence that can help you prove your case. Ask someone with direct knowledge of what happened to you to testify at the hearing.
If you have witnesses, notify the Appeals Division immediately. The referee who is assigned to your case will decide whether a subpoena is necessary to get the witness to appear at the hearing. If you have a lawyer, your attorney will take care of gathering witnesses.
Collect your evidence and make copies. Send one copy to the Appeals Division so the referee will be able to enter the documents into evidence. Your employer or their representative will need to see your evidence just as you will need to see theirs. You may have video or audio evidence. The same rules apply. Send your referee a copy of the evidence prior to your hearing.
Be aware that just as you can appeal a denial of benefits, your former employer may appeal the award of benefits. If your employer appeals the decision to award you benefits, you will receive notice from the Appeals Division. Your procedures will be the same as if you filed the claim after that.
What to expect at an appeals hearing?
You must show up at the hearing and show up on time. If you have a telephone hearing, this means calling in to the telephone number the Appeals Division sends you. If you are significantly late or don’t show up, it is a near certainty that you will lose your case for “failure to appear.” It’s best to be early to the hearing. You will be able to collect your thoughts and make sure you have the documents you need ready to go. Your former employer will have been notified about the hearing and will be given the opportunity to appear and defend their position. They may chose to be represented by someone else, often someone who has participated in many hearings before.
Once the hearing begins, the referee will go over some information with both parties, including cautioning both sides to behave well. While the appeals hearing is not a formal process, rules have to be followed (this is called a “quasi-judicial” hearing). The referee will then swear in both parties and begin.
The side that is filing the appeal will go first. The referee will ask you questions about what happened when you were discharged from work, and will allow you time to tell your story. Answer the questions truthfully and stick to the facts about what happened. The referee will ask your employer or their representative similar questions. When the referee believes there is enough information brought out in the hearing to make a decision, the referee will dismiss both sides.
The referee will usually make a decision about the hearing the same day. However, the referee will not tell you at the end of the hearing who “won.” The referee will write the decision and the Appeals Division will mail you the results.
If the referee decides in your favor, the Department will send you the money you are owed later. If the referee does not decide in your favor, you may be able to appeal the decision to the Board of Review. You may even appeal a decision that denies benefits for failure to appear.
For more information on filing an initial unemployment benefits claim or to find out how to proceed where unusual circumstances are involved in your case, visit the Connecticut Department of Labor’s unemployment insurance home page.
You can find assistance on various topics and, if needed, in help written in Spanish.
We also recommend reading the Department’s guide to collecting benefits.
If you want to talk to a real person, it may be best to visit one of the local job centers in the state.