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Unemployment Insurance Hearing

You received a "notice of determination" that your unemployment insurance claim has been denied. That's a hard blow when you need that money. What can you do about it? You can request a hearing before an administrative law judge to dispute the denial.

Unemployment insurance claims are often denied for reasons such as:

  1. Failing to make a timely request
  2. Quitting voluntarily without good cause
  3. Employee terminated for misconduct
  4. Making false statements

To obtain a hearing you must request one in writing from your state's Department of Labor. You need to do so within a set amount of days from the date the determination letter was mailed. (Typically 30 days, but it varies by state). The request letter should include your full name, address, social security number, unemployment case number, and a statement that you disagree with the determination.

Often, hearing dates are set just a few days before the actual hearing so you won't have much time to prepare. You can start to prepare for the unemployment insurance hearing even before receiving notice of the hearing date. This might be a good time to hire an employment lawyer.

How to Prepare for an Unemployment Insurance Hearing

At the unemployment insurance hearing, you will have the opportunity to present evidence, such as papers, physical evidence, or witness testimony, in support of your position.

Here are steps you can take now to prepare for the unemployment insurance hearing.

  1. Gather all paperwork and evidence to support your eligibility. This may include performance evaluations, pay stubs, phone bills, warning letters, and employee handbooks.
  2. Anticipate what you will say to prove your case. Have an outline of points related to the reason for denial and your separation, as stated in the denial letter.
  3. Ask witnesses to attend the hearing and testify on your behalf, or obtain written statements from them in advance.​
  4. Employers are often represented by counsel in unemployment proceedings. You may wish to have an attorney represent you during the hearing as well.

On the day of the hearing:

  1. Arrive early and dress appropriately for court (neat business attire, for example)
  2. Review your file if it is available in your state
  3. Prepare to be sworn in, and for your witnesses to be sworn in
  4. Stay calm and unemotional when presenting your claim
  5. Avoid arguing with the hearing officer or lawyer who may ask questions. 

During the hearing, you will have an opportunity to tell your side of the story. It's important that you stick to the facts and avoid making any false statements—hearings are often recorded, and those recordings can be used as reference in the future. This is also the time for you to present any evidence, including witness testimony, to support your case.

You will also have the opportunity to cross-examine your former employer and their witnesses (if any) and give a closing statement.

Appeals Process If You are Denied

If you are again denied unemployment insurance and you feel the decision was incorrect, you must promptly file a written letter of appeal, usually again within 30 days (and sometimes less). Your appeal letter should include your name, address, social security number, and case number, and should include a statement that you are requesting an appeal.

Keep in mind that the appeals process can be time-consuming and costly. Depending on the circumstances of your case, you may decide an appeal is not worth it for you. Your lawyer can best advise you on this matter.

Related Resources

Unemployment Insurance Overview

Unemployment Benefits

If You Want to Appeal an Unemployment Denial, Talk with a Lawyer

For legal advice concerning the unemployment insurance appeals process, contact a local employment lawyer.

You Don’t Have To Solve This on Your Own – Get a Lawyer’s Help

Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.

Or contact an attorney near you:

Next Steps

Contact a qualified employment attorney to make sure your rights are protected.

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