Montana Appeals Process – What Happens When you’re Denied Benefits?
What Happens When Your Claim is Denied: The Appeals Process
You may request a redetermination of the Department’s decision denying benefits. You must have new information and a sound reason to disagree with the original decision. You have 10 days from the mailing date on your Notice of Determination. That notice will contain the reasons why the state denied your claim and instructions on how to request the redetermination.
If you disagree with the redetermination outcome, you may file an appeal to the Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH). You have 10 days from the date the Department of Labor mails your Notice of Redetermination.
You may file an appeal online at the website of the OAH. It is a simple web form that you fill out and submit. If you do not have Internet access yourself, you may use any computer with a connection to file the appeal.
The hearings themselves are held by telephone. The process is similar to a trial, but much less formal. A Hearing Officer will act as a judge. The Hearing Officer listens to testimony and evidence, decides what the facts of the case are, and applies Montana unemployment law to those facts.
You may request an in-person hearing. The OAH may schedule an in-person hearing in Helena if the circumstances warrant one.
The OAH will mail you a Notice of Telephone Hearing as soon as possible after they receive your request. The Notice will contain the date and time of the hearing, as well as the names and addresses of the parties who will have the right to participate in the hearing. Your former employer will have the right to participate in the hearing if the issue is one related to your separation from work.
If you notice a scheduling conflict, contact the OAH immediately to attempt to reschedule. You will need to show a good reason why you need to reschedule to the Hearing Officer. You must have an unavoidable conflict, like starting a new job or a court date that was already scheduled.
This period is also a good time to inform the OAH if you will need a translator or other accommodations during your hearing.
If you fail to file your appeal in a timely manner (within the 10-day window), you may lose your right to appeal. You may have to show the Hearing Officer good cause why you filed a late appeal before the OAH can accept jurisdiction of your issue.
Preparing for the Hearing
You will have the right to present evidence, personal testimony and witnesses during the hearing. You should collect all relevant documents related to your separation from work (or to your wages if you are appealing a monetary determination).
Evidence and Testimony
The opposing party at the hearing has the right to see your evidence prior to the hearing. You also have the right to see theirs. The Hearing Officer needs to see the evidence as well. So then, you must provide copies to the OAH and the opposing party using the contact information in the hearing notice.
Representation at the Hearing
You have the right to representation during the hearing, just as you would at trial. However, the OAH is not obligated to provide counsel for you as are the courts. You can hire an attorney, seek free legal help, or ask a friend to represent you. None of these are necessary, as many claimants represent themselves successfully during their hearing.
You have the right to present witnesses at the hearing. Your witnesses should have firsthand knowledge of the events directly related to your separation. It is not enough that they simply heard what happened to you. Character witnesses are not usually needed in these proceedings, and may not have relevant testimony.
If you are unsure whether a necessary witness will appear, or if you plan to have more than three witnesses testifying at the hearing, call the OAH as soon as possible. The Hearing Officer will determine whether you need the witnesses to present your case. The Hearing Officer will also decide whether to issue a subpoena to compel any reluctant witnesses to appear.
Put together your case. Decide how the evidence you have will allow the Hearing Officer to reach a different outcome than the claims examiner.
Be on time for the hearing. If you are substantially late, the hearing may go on without you, or you may lose your right to appeal. The Hearing Officer may determine that you have failed to appear.
At the Hearing
The Hearing Officer will verify everyone’s identity, then swear in all parties at the start of the hearing. Then, the Hearing Officer will give instructions to both parties.
If the issue in your case is whether you quit for good cause, you will present testimony first. That’s because you must prove there was good cause (your burden of proof). If the issue is whether you were discharged for misconduct, the employer will go first. The employer has the burden of proof for that issue.
After both parties have presented testimony, the opposing party will be able to ask questions about their testimony (“cross examination”). The Hearing Officer may ask questions of both parties at any time.
When both sides are finished, the Hearing Officer may allow time for closing statements from each. Then, the Hearing Officer will close the hearing. You will not know the outcome of the case at that time.
The Hearing Officer will present the decision by mail. You should receive it within 30 days. If you disagree with the decision, see the enclosed information on how to file an appeal to the Board of Administrative Review.
Learn about Appeals Hearings at the OAH website