Unemployment Benefits Denied? To Appeal or Not To Appeal?

Your Unemployment Insurance Claim was Denied – Now What?

Unemployment Benefit Claim Denied Stamp Showing Social Security Welfare Refused

When it comes to filing for unemployment insurance (UI), there are many reasons for why your claim may have been denied, but the top three reasons are:

  • You voluntarily quit your job without a compelling reason to do so, thereby making yourself ineligible for UI
  • You were fired from your job as a result of your own misconduct or wrongdoing (again, making yourself ineligible)
  • You did not earn enough wages during the time you spent working.

If any of the above three disqualifiers apply to your situation, then you most likely do not have a strong case for appealing the decision. Take a moment to evaluate the legitimacy of your claim: is there a reason you were denied, or do you feel that you were unjustly denied UI? If there is a good reason for your claim being denied, it’s best to move on and continue seeking gainful employment. If there is not a good reason or you cannot figure out why you were denied, you may have a case for appealing the unemployment decision.

Your Claim was Approved, but now it’s Denied – What’s Going On?

If you aren’t keeping up with the ongoing requirements for your state’s unemployment insurance program, you are at risk for losing your benefits. Each state has their own set of rules and regulations governing its unemployment insurance program, so make sure you understand what is expected of you in order to avoid becoming ineligible.

Some common reasons for losing your eligibility status are: refusing reasonable work offers, not actively seeking job opportunities, not being available to work, and not reporting side-earnings. Some states require you to schedule and attend a minimum number of job interviews per week. If you aren’t meeting your unemployment quotas, then you may lose your benefits.

If you find yourself suddenly ineligible for unemployment insurance, take a moment to evaluate your situation. Have you been actively searching for work, or are you marginally attached to the workforce? Are you consistently scheduling job interviews, or has it been awhile since you had an interview? Make sure you’re up-to-date with your state’s eligibility requirements.

Then, if you still feel that there is not a good reason for your benefits to have been revoked, you should consider filing an appeal.

Appealing a Denied Unemployment Claim

As mentioned earlier, the process for appealing a denied UI claim will vary from state to state.

Generally, the process resembles a hearing/trial. You do not need to hire a lawyer to represent you, as the system is designed for non-lawyers, but you can hire a lawyer if you would like to.  However, it’s important to realize that if you bring a lawyer to your unemployment hearing, your former employer, if it involves him/her, will most likely bring one as well.

The first step is to typically submit a formal appeal, in writing, to your state’s unemployment program, notifying them of your disagreement with their decision. The deadline for submitting a formal appeal can be as short as 7 days from receiving the decision in some states. It’s important to move quickly.

If your employer disagrees with an unemployment decision, he/she may also file for an appeal. For example, if you are awarded unemployment insurance, but your former employer feels that you are ineligible to receive such benefits, he/she may file an appeal and offer a case against the decision. You are, of course, allowed to defend your unemployment insurance benefits.

If you do not yet have an idea for why you were denied benefits or for why your employer may be opposed to you receiving benefits, then you will have a chance to review a short brief on the matter when you receive notice of your hearing. This is important, as you must present your case to the judge – why was the state wrong to deny you benefits? If you actually committed an offense that makes you ineligible for UI, then you won’t have a strong case.

Unlike in civil and criminal court, the judges of unemployment insurance appeals hearings are supposed to help you present your case. It’s important to understand, though, that they will not do the work for you and they do not have time to listen to nonsense. Therefore, arriving to your hearing prepared and ready to go can mean the difference between receiving your benefits or being denied them.

At your hearing, you must present as much evidence and testimony as you can. Your case should be based off of facts and the law. Your conduct should be professional, polite, and engaged. You should not bash on your former employer or make statements you cannot back with evidence.

If your hearing does not turn out the way you hoped for, there are additional levels you can appeal to, with the next level being an appeal-board. With an appeal-board, you submit, in writing, why you believe the judge’s decision was incorrect. Typically, you will not be asked to present your case in-person.


  • Casey

    Father passed,called off, returned to work had a break down notified administer needed more time off, saw my doctor prescribed meds to help, had a no show got a call following day for no call no show termination. Ineligible not denied. Do i appeal it? I hv a doctor note. Florida.

  • James

    Had a death in family notified my manager and took a couple days off, went in to get my check and was told I needed to hand in uniform to receive it. Never was told I was fired or quit am I eligible?

  • Cara King

    What is considered “misconduct?” My husband’s separation letter stated he was fired for performance. Tennessee’s Unemployment Agency contacted his ex-employer to find out more information. His ex-employer stated that my husband did not get a load out in time and had been warned about this situation before. The Unemployment Agency stated that my husband knew what was expected of him in his job and he didn’t, therefore they stated he was fired for MISCONDUCT and was not eligible.

    My husband was a production supervisor over 15 men and the work that came down the line to them was flawed and had to be repaired before his team could do their job. They were not able to meet production because of the poor quality of the line completing the work before it came to them. They had to repair the flaws first before doing their job. My husband talked to management numerous times about the quality issue of the work coming down the line to his department, but they would not do anything about it. His employer had him and his crew working 12 hour days 7 days a week to try to get the work out, but they still couldn’t meet their production because of the excessive quality issues and being overworked and burned out. Being a supervisor, they fired him. He did all he could do, but could not perform miracles and make these men get the work out when they had issues beyond their control. Would this be considered MISCONDUCT? I don’t see how it could be. He is in the process of appealing the decision, but I wanted to know if you or anyone else considered this misconduct?

  • got fired in august applied for benefits recieved letter saying I was eligible for benefits but still no reply back how do you know if you been denied and how to appeal

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