New Mexico Appeals Process – What Happens When you’re Denied Benefits?
If the New Mexico Department of Workforce Services (DWS) denies your claim for unemployment benefits in NM, you can appeal that decision to the DWS Appeals Tribunal. The appeal will be a telephone hearing before a judge called an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). The ALJ will take sworn testimony from you and your former employer (if the appeal regards your separation from work). You will have the opportunity to show you should receive benefits by exercising your rights to present testimony and evidence.
How to File an Unemployment Benefit Appeal
When the DWS denies your claim, you will receive a Notice of Disqualification. This notice will include a “Request for Hearing” packet. The packet will provide the information on how to file in writing.
You may also file an appeal online through your New Mexico Workforce Connections account.
You will have 15 calendar days from the date on the notice in which to file a timely appeal. If you file after that period, you will have to show the Appeals Tribunal good cause for filing late before the Tribunal will hear the merits of your case.
As the hearings are normally conducted through conference call, you will have to provide the Tribunal with callback information one business day before your hearing date. This is so that the ALJ can contact you at the appropriate number and you don’t miss the hearing. You may call the Tribunal during regular business hours, Monday through Friday. You have until 4PM on the day before your scheduled hearing date. The ALJ will not call you for the hearing unless you provide the callback number.
If you plan to appeal, it is in your best interest to address the Tribunal’s requirements as soon as possible, so read the information packet carefully.
Continue to certify weekly while you are waiting for the hearing notice all the way through the hearing date and after.
Preparing for the Appeal
The Tribunal will mail you a Notice of Hearing when they schedule your hearing date. If you have requested, or have been selected for, an in-person hearing, the place of the hearing will be included in this notice.
Check the date and time for scheduling conflicts. It is more likely that you will have to rearrange your schedule as it is rare for the Tribunal to reschedule a hearing. You have the right to request a rescheduling. However, you must show a substantial and compelling reason for the request.
Your former employer will receive notice of the hearing if the hearing is about a denial because of separation issues. The employer will have the right to appear and present testimony. An employer may also appeal a decision in your favor if they disagree with an award of benefits.
You should prepare a logical, fact-based argument to present at the hearing. The best way is to exercise the rights available to you at the hearing.
You have the right to have someone represent you at the hearing. You can hire an attorney or ask a friend. Many do not chose to exercise this right, however, and represent themselves with no problems.
Any representative you chose must file an Entry of Appearance letter to the Tribunal. Attorneys must follow special rules to appear in the hearings.
You have the right to have a witness provide relevant testimony on your behalf. The witness should have first hand knowledge of the events regarding your separation from work. “Character” witnesses are not usually helpful in unemployment benefit appeals.
You are responsible for giving your witnesses the information they need to participate in the hearing. You are responsible for making sure they appear.
You have the right to present relevant evidence at the hearing. You can present business documents, medical records or any evidence that the ALJ does not have to verify. If you want to present a written statement from a witness, contact the Tribunal. You may need to get an affidavit or have the person who wrote the statement verify its authenticity at the hearing.
If you have audio or visual evidence, the Tribunal may need to take specific steps, like scheduling an in-person hearing. Call the the Tribunal if you have such evidence.
A subpoena will compel the appearance of a witness at the hearing. You may also use it to get a piece of evidence the holder is reluctant to release. You will have to make a written request for a subpoena. Submit your request in writing to the ALJ and the opposing party to the hearing. The request must contain sufficient information for the ALJ to properly serve the subpoena and must include a reason why you need the witness or evidence.
Duty to Disclose
You cannot “surprise” the opposing party at the hearing with evidence or witnesses. You must provide copies of your evidence and your witness list to both the ALJ and the opposing party. You must do so at least 24 hours before the hearing date.
Any evidence you want to enter into the record at the hearing must be properly marked. You have to include on each piece of evidence:
- Your name
- The appeal number
- The date and time of the hearing
- The ALJ’s name
Label your documents appropriately using page numbers. You are the “claimant” in the hearing, so your numbers will be “C1, C2 . . .”
If you will need a language translator or special disability assistance, the Tribunal will provide this for you. However, you must make your request prior to the hearing date.
At the Unemployment Benefit Appeals Hearing
The hearing is a quasi-legal proceeding. As such, it is not as formal as a court trial. However, the ALJ will expect that you will use the same behavior in the hearing as you would in front of a judge’s bench.
Be available when the ALJ calls. If you do not respond and you filed the appeal, the ALJ may dismiss your appeal and allow the DWS determination to stand.
The ALJ will swear in both parties and then explain procedure and give instructions. Both parties will present their testimony, evidence and witnesses. When that testimony is finished, the opposing party will have the opportunity to ask questions about the testimony just presented (“cross examination”). The ALJ may ask questions at any time during the hearing.
Both parties will have an opportunity to make a closing statement.
The ALJ will make a decision based on the testimony presented during the hearing. The ALJ will issue a decision several days after the hearing has completed. If you disagree with the decision, you have the right to appeal. Instructions on how to file a next-level appeal will be included with the ALJ’s decision.
Read this pamphlet on New Mexico appeals
The DWS website has more information on appeals
Appeals Tribunal contact:
1-800-545-0533 (if outside of New Mexico)
P.O. Box 1928
Albuquerque, NM 87103