Pennsylvania Appeals Process – What Happens When you’re Denied Benefits?

  Last Verified: February 2017  

The Pennsylvania Unemployment Compensation Law allows any applicant for benefits to appeal any negative decision from the Office of Unemployment Compensation to the Board of Review’s Referee. If you were denied benefits, you will note that the Notice of Determination included instructions on how to file an appeal. This article will go beyond instructions to inform you on how to prepare for your hearing and what to expect during the hearing.

You have 15 days to file your appeal. The clock starts running from the mailing date of the appeal, not when you receive it. You can file your appeal online, in person at a PA Careerlink® office or by completing the Petition for Appeal form. Your Notice will include the Petition; however, you can download a copy from the OUC website. When you file your appeal in person, you must present a copy of the Petition.

To file an online appeal, you will need the information from your Notice, an email address and a copy of the Adobe Acrobat Reader. You must have this software to complete an online application. You must use the form that matches the Unemployment Compensation Service Center (UC Center) that mailed your Notice. The links and mailing addresses (if you plan to mail your appeal) for the different centers are below:

Duquesne UC Service Center (0998)
14 North Linden Street
Duquesne, PA 15110-1067
FAX: 412-267-1475
Scranton UC Service Center (0991)
30 Stauffer Industrial Park
Taylor, PA 18517-9625
FAX: 570-562-4385
Erie UC Service Center
(0993)

1316 State Street
Erie, PA 16501-1978
FAX: 814-871-4863
Harrisburg Overflow Center
651 Boas St, 15th Floor
Harrisburg, PA 17121
FAX: 717-214-5463

By using the links, you can find the form you need. If you received a form from the Lancaster center, use the Harrisburg Overflow form.

Timeliness is important when filing your appeal. You must apply within the 15-day window. Filing online or faxing the appeal is the best way to insure you get it in on time. If you must use postal mail, note that your filing date will be your mailing date. If your letter doesn’t have a post mark or other indication of when you sent the appeal, the filing date will be when the OUC receives the appeal.

What Happens When You File an Unemployment Appeal in PA

The appeal will be a hearing before a person who will hear the evidence in the case and apply the law. This person is called a UC Referee. The Referee will mail the parties to the hearing a Notice of Hearing, which will include the date, time and place of the hearing. You will also learn who will participate and what issue will be discussed. If you are appealing a denial of benefits, your former employer will have the right to participate in the hearing, and will receive Notice.

Preparing for your Unemployment Appeal

You have certain rights under the law regarding your appeal hearing. You have the right to representation, to present evidence and have witnesses like a judicial trial. However, the appeals hearing is a less formal administrative hearing.

Representation

You may represent yourself at the hearing without difficulty, as many do. You may also have a friend represent you or you can hire an attorney. You should inform the Board of Review or your Referee if you are hiring a lawyer, as certain rules apply. If you ask a friend to represent you, you should be aware that your friend may not testify to the facts of the case or as a “character witness” on your behalf.

Witnesses

You have the right to have witnesses present to provide the Referee with facts regarding your case. They should have first-hand knowledge about your separation from work. If they only “heard about” what happened, the Referee may not allow them to testify. In some circumstances, something you told them immediately after what happened may be relevant testimony. It will be up to the Referee to decide what is relevant.

If you think an important witness may be reluctant to testify (or to produce documents you plan to present as evidence), inform the Referee. The Referee will decide whether to issue a subpoena to order the witness to appear at your hearing. In PA, the person requesting the subpoena is required to deliver the subpoena.

Evidence

You may present evidence at your hearing. You can present “business documents,” like time sheets or disciplinary notices, anything produced in the normal course of business. You may present authentic medical records. If you have some document like a written statement, the person who made the statement will have to be present at the hearing to verify that they in fact made the statement (with some exceptions).

Scheduling Issues

If you notice that the hearing date and time conflict with some previously scheduled event, you should notify the Referee immediately. Inform them of the conflict if you wish to reschedule. You will have to provide a substantial and compelling reason for the Referee to reschedule.

If you miss a hearing because of some event, you may request a reopening of the hearing (if you miss the hearing, the Referee may hear the case without you or allow the original decision to stand). Again, you must have a compelling reason to request the reopening. You should make this request as soon as reasonably able.

What Happens During an Unemployment Appeal

The Referee will swear in all parties present at the hearing, and then explain the rules and procedures. The party that filed the appeal may go first, or the issue at the hearing will determine the order of testimony. The employer will go first if the issue is whether you were fired for misconduct. You, the claimant, will go first if the issue is whether you quit for good cause.

Both parties will have an opportunity to present evidence, witnesses and other testimony. The Referee will allow the opposing party the opportunity to ask questions about that testimony. The Referee may ask questions at any time, either to facilitate the process or illuminate important facts. Both parties will have an opportunity to make a closing statement.

The Referee will issue a decision after the hearing is closed. The Referee will base the decision on the facts presented during the hearing and the application of the law. The Referee will mail a copy of the decision to both parties.

If you disagree with the decision, you may appeal that decision to the Board of Review.

Below are the addresses for the various Referee Offices in PA. Your hearing may be held at one of these locations. Also, you may call these offices for more information about your appeal.

Referee Offices
Bethlehem Referee Office
224 Nazareth Pike
Bethlehem, PA 18020-9498
Phone: 610-746-3804
Fax: 610-746-3806
Email: ra-li-ucbr-Bethlehem@pa.gov
Bristol Referee Office
1250 Veterans Hwy, Suite G-13
Bristol, PA 19007-2599
Phone: 267-550-9578
Fax: 215-781-3207
Email: ra-li-ucbr-Bristol@pa.gov
Erie Referee Office
3300 Lovell Place
Erie, PA 16503-2620
Phone: 814-871-4638
Fax: 814-878-5814
Email: ra-li-ucbr-Erie@pa.gov
Greensburg Referee Office
144 N. Main Street, Suite 1B
Greensburg, PA 15601-4497
Phone: 724-858-3930
Fax: 724-830-2049
Email: ra-li-ucbr-Greensbur@pa.gov
Harrisburg Referee Office
333 Market Street, 16th Floor
Harrisburg, PA 17101-2238
Phone: 717-214-4300
Fax: 717-705-0881
Email: ra-li-ucbr-Harrisbur@pa.gov

Mailing Address:
P.O. Box 69019
Harrisburg, PA 17106-9019

Hermitage Referee Office
1621 Dutch Lane, Suite 103
Hermitage, PA 16148
Phone: 724-962-6092
Fax: 724-962-6098
Email: ra-li-ucbr-Sharo
Johnstown Referee Office
319 Washington Street, Suite 226
Johnstown, PA 15901
Phone: 814-533-2381
Fax: 814-533-2412
Email: ra-li-ucbr-Johnstown@pa.gov
King of Prussia Referee Office
100 Ross Road, Suite 210
King of Prussia, PA 19406-2110
Phone: 484-250-7120
Fax: 610-337-1877
Email: ra-li-ucbr-King@pa.gov
Lancaster Referee Office
29 East King Street, Suite 101
Lancaster, PA 17602-2852
Phone: 717-299-7554
Fax: 717-290-1952
Email: ra-li-ucbr-Lancaster@pa.gov
Malvern Referee Office
100 Ross Road, Suite 210
King of Prussia, PA 19406-2110
Phone: 484-250-7120
Fax: 610-337-1877
Email: ra-li-ucbr-King@pa.gov

NOTE: This office will be closing effective Feb. 24, 2017. As of Feb. 23, hearings and staff for this location will be located at the King of Prussia UC Referee Office, 100 Ross Road, Suite 210, King of Prussia, PA 19406. The new telephone number, (484) 250-7120 and the fax number, (610) 337-1877.

Oil City Referee Office
106 Duncomb Street
Drake Building, Suite A
Oil City, PA 16301-1447
Phone: 814-676-5751
Fax: 814-677-6018
Email: ra-li-ucbr-OilCity@pa.gov
Philadelphia Referee Office
444 N. Third St., 2nd Floor
Philadelphia, PA 19123-4185
Phone: 215-560-2845
Fax: 215-560-2816
Email: ra-li-ucbr-Philadelp@pa.gov
Pittsburgh Referee Office
301 5th Avenue, Suite 340
Pittsburgh, PA 15222
Phone: 412-565-5388
Fax: 412-565-2324
Email: ra-li-ucbr-Pittsburg@pa.gov
Reading Referee Office
625 Cherry Street, Room 243
Reading, PA 19602-1152
Phone: 610-378-4100
Fax: 610-378-4456
Email: ra-li-ucbr-Reading@pa.gov
Scranton Referee Office
1016 Pittston Avenue, Suite 300
PNU/PNCC Building
Scranton, PA 18505-4109
Phone: 570-963-4658
Fax: 570-963-3497
Email: ra-li-ucbr-Scranton@pa.gov
Springfield Referee Office
1489 Baltimore Pike
Building 100, Suite 106
Springfield, PA 19064-3958
Phone: 610-938-9472
Fax: 610-338-2299
Email: ra-li-ucbr-Springfie@pa.gov
Washington Referee Office
Millcraft Center
90 W. Chestnut Street, Suite 125UL
Washington, PA 15301-4524
Phone: 724-223-4590
Fax: 724-250-1227
Email: ra-li-ucbr-Washingto@pa.gov
Wilkes Barre Referee Office
39 Public Square, Suite 100
Wilkes Barre, PA 18701-2509
Phone: 570-301-1520
Fax: 570-301-1523
Email: ra-li-ucbr-WilkesBar@pa.gov
Williamsport Referee Office
208 W. Third Street, Suite 201
Williamsport, PA 17701-6477
Phone: 570-327-3539
Fax: 570-321-0917
Email: ra-li-ucbr-Williamsp@pa.gov