Massachusetts Appeals Process – What Happens When you’re Denied Benefits?
If the Department of Unemployment Assistance (DUA) denies your claim for unemployment benefits in Massachusetts, you have the right to appeal their decision and receive a fair and impartial hearing. You will receive a Notice of Disqualification notifying you of your rights and responsibilities.
- You must file your appeal within 10 days of the mailing date of the notice.
- If you file late, you have a 30-day window to file a late appeal.
- You must offer a substantial and compelling reason as to why your appeal was filed after the deadline before the department will consider the request to file late.
- The department may deny your request to file late. You may appeal that denial.
The hearings are conducted by a Review Examiner. They are held over the telephone or in person. You may appeal any decision by the DUA. The Hearing Department will mail a Notice of Hearing informing you of the date, time and place (if in person) of the hearing. If you are appealing a decision related to your separation from work, your former employer will receive notice as well, and will have the right to appear and present testimony.
How to File the Appeal
You may file your appeal online through the UI system. You may also file in writing and mail or fax the appeal to the Hearing Department. You should include your contact information, social security number and a brief statement on why you are filing the appeal.
Preparing for the Hearing
Read the notice you receive carefully and take note of the date. If you find a scheduling conflict, you must notify the Review Examiner and request a rescheduling. You must have a substantial and compelling reason to reschedule.
If you have any other needs, like language translation or TTY assistance, the department will provide them. However, you should make the request soon after you receive the Notice of Hearing.
You have the right to have someone represent you at the hearing. You may hire an attorney, ask a friend, coworker or a union rep. If you ask your friend, be aware your friend or coworker, they may not testify for you at the hearing.
Attorneys must follow special rules before representing clients at the hearing. This includes obtaining permission from the DUA to charge fees. They may not charge you anything without permission from the DUA.
The department will not help you find representation. You may inquire with your local legal aid office or other services.
You have the right to present witness testimony during your hearing. Your witnesses should have first-hand knowledge about the facts surrounding your dismissal from work. Character witnesses and the like are usually not helpful in these kinds of hearings, unless your character is at issue.
You have the right to present evidence to support your argument. If you have documents create by someone, you may need to have that person present to verify that they actually created the documents. Other documents normally produced during the regular course of business, like time sheets, don’t need to be verified.
If you have a telephone hearing, you should make sure the examiner (and your former employer) has copies of your evidence prior to the hearing date. Contact your assigned examiner for details on how to contact the opposing party. If you do not present evidence ahead of time, the examiner may not allow you to present it at the hearing.
Audio and video evidence may present special circumstances the review examiner must deal with. There may be special processes for presenting this evidence. You may have to request an in-person hearing.
Some witnesses may be reluctant to testify. Some may be reluctant to produce documents you may need to prove your case. You may ask the department in writing to issue a subpoena to compel the witness to appear at the hearing or to produce documents. You should make your request with sufficient time for the Review Examiner to consider your request and issue the subpoena. The examiner may decide not to issue any subpoena.
Take all these items you’ve prepared and either come up with a fact-based, logical argument as to why you should receive benefits. You may also consult with your representative to develop a plan.
At the Hearing
Both parties to the hearing will present sworn testimony before the Review Examiner. The process is similar to that of a court trial, but less formal. You should expect to conduct yourself formally, nevertheless.
After the examiner presents hearing instructions, the parties will be able to present their testimony and witnesses. The examiner will inform you who begins the testimony first (often depending on the issue at the hearing). When that person has finished presenting their case, the opposing party may ask questions regarding the testimony just presented. Then the next party will have their chance to present evidence and will have to field questions about their testimony.
The examiner will offer both sides a chance to present a closing argument before ending the hearing. The examiner will issue a decision several days after the hearing has completed.
Don’t forget to continue to request payments while you are filing an appeal and waiting on a decision.
If you disagree with the examiner’s decision, you may file an appeal with the Board of Review. The examiner’s decision will contain instructions on how to file that appeal.
You can contact the Hearings Department’s automated information line anytime at 617-626-6561.
You can also call the main lines of the Hearing department at the numbers below:
- Boston: 1-617-626-5200
- Lawrence: 1-978-738-4400
- Brockton: 1-508-894-4777
- Springfield: 1-413-452-4700
DUA office address
Charles F. Hurley Building
19 Staniford Street
Boston, MA 02114