New Jersey Appeals Process – What Happens When you’re Denied Benefits?
If the Department of Labor and Workforce Development (LWD) denies your claim for unemployment benefits in New Jersey for any reason, you have the right to appeal their decision to the Appeals Tribunal. The appeal is a fair and impartial hearing in front of an Appeals Examiner. The hearing may be held over the telephone or in-person. You will have the right to present evidence, testimony and witnesses to make your case that the state should approve your claim.
How to File an Unemployment Benefits Appeal
When the LWD denies your claim, you will receive a Notice of Determination to inform you of the denial of benefits and the reason(s) why. You will then have 10 days from the mailing date of the notice, or seven days from the day you received it, in which to file your appeal.
If you knowingly file late, your appeal must include a showing of good cause why you filed your appeal. A “good cause” is most often circumstances beyond your control.
You may file your appeal online (recommended) or file a written appeal by mail or fax.
Your written appeal should include:
- Your SSN
- Current contact information
- A brief statement of the reason for the appeal
- The determination you are appealing
New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development
PO Box 907
Trenton, NJ 08625-0907
Preparing for the Hearing
The Appeals Tribunal will mail a Notice of Hearing several days after you file. The notice will include the date and time (and place, if in person) of the hearing. If the issue of the appeal relates to your separation from work, your former employer will receive notice as well. The employer will have the right to appear at the hearing and present testimony.
If you notice a scheduling conflict, attempt to address this immediately by calling the Appeals Tribunal and requesting a postponement. You must show a good cause for the Appeals Examiner to honor your request.
If you will have special needs, like TTY service, a language interpreter or disability access, the Appeals Tribunal will address your needs. However, you should inform them as soon as possible, no later than 24 hours prior to the hearing.
You will be able to exercise certain rights during the hearing. Exercising these rights will help you prove your case.
You have the right to be represented by an advocate at the hearing. You may hire an attorney or ask a coworker. Many people represent themselves with little difficulty in the informal hearing process.
The Appeals Tribunal will not help you find representation. Use outside sources like the bar association or legal aid office if you want a lawyer. Lawyers must follow special rules to represent parties at the hearing and will need to address these prior to the hearing date.
Coworkers or friends acting as your advocate may not offer testimony regarding your case during the hearing. Don’t ask someone to represent you who has first-hand knowledge about your dismissal from work.
You have the right to have witnesses testify on your behalf. Your witnesses should have first-hand knowledge regarding your case and only provide relevant testimony. You typically need no more than three witnesses to testify to the facts of the case.
When you have a telephone hearing, it is your responsibility to make sure your witnesses have the number they need to call to participate.
You have the right to present physical evidence, including documents, to support your appeal. Some types of evidence needs to be verified by the person who produced the document, so that person may need to appear at the hearing.
Documents produced in the normal course of a business, like medical records or disciplinary actions, do not need verification.
Audio or visual evidence may present problems at the hearing, especially during telephone hearings. Contact the Appeals Tribunal if you plan to present such evidence.
You must provide the Appeals Examiner and the opposing party a copy of evidence you will use at the hearing. If you do not, the examiner may not allow you to present the evidence at the hearing.
You may request that the Appeals Tribunal issue a subpoena. A subpoena will compel a witness to appear, if reluctant. The examiner may also issue a subpoena to compel someone to produce evidence you need to make your case. The examiner has discretion whether to honor your request for a subpoena.
If you cannot present evidence because of an examiner decision, you should attempt to enter the evidence anyway during the hearing. That way, the issue will be part of the record for later review.
Combine the collected witnesses and evidence to make a fact-based, logical argument to present to the examiner. The examiner will only look at what is presented during the hearing to make a decision on your benefits.
At the Hearing
If you have a telephone hearing, call into the number given to you in the Notice of Hearing at least 15 minutes prior to the scheduled start time. If you are having an in-person hearing, arrive early.
If you fail to appear (and you filed the appeal), the examiner may dismiss your case and allow the original decision to stand. You may request a reopening but you must be able to show a substantial and compelling reason for missing the hearing. If you are substantially late, the examiner may dismiss the case.
Both parties will present sworn testimony during the hearing. You will present your evidence and witnesses. The opposing party will have the opportunity to ask you questions about your testimony.
When you are finished, the other party will proceed. When they are done, you may ask questions about their testimony.
Both parties may present a closing statement.
The appeals examiner will make a decision based on the facts presented at the hearing. The examiner will issue a decision several days later. If either party disagrees with the decision, they may file an appeal to the Board of Review.
Continue to certify your claim after filing your appeal, participating in the hearing and waiting on a decision. You will not receive benefits for any week in which you do not certify.