Unemployment Benefits Denied? To Appeal or Not To Appeal?
Your Unemployment Insurance Claim was Denied – Now What?
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Then, if you still feel that there is not a good reason for your benefits to have been revoked, you should consider filing an appeal.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.