Were you one of the 1.4 million people who filed for unemployment last week? If you were, and you heard that your claim was denied, you are probably feeling pretty disappointed. But a denial doesn’t mean you won’t be able to get benefits! Once you appeal, you’ll go to a hearing with an administrative judge, which many states are now conducting virtually, who will decide whether you should be granted benefits. If you win your appeal, you'll be granted the benefits you’re entitled to, including retroactive benefits in most cases. You can (and should) appeal your claim. In this post, we’ll break down how, and some tips and tricks for a successful appeal.
What To Do Before You File An Appeal
Before you file an appeal, familiarize yourself with your state’s appeal process. Each state has different appeal requirements and different forms. States also have different deadlines for appealing an unemployment claim; some require that claimants file an appeal within ten days of their unemployment denial. You can learn about your state’s process here.
What You Need for An Appeal
Although appeal requirements do vary by state, there are a few things you can do to optimize your chances of receiving benefits no matter where you are based. Here’s what you’ll need for a successful appeal:
- Appeal form(s). Some states will send you the appeal form when your claim is denied, but if not it should be accessible on your state’s unemployment website.
- Supporting documentation. Gather all supporting documentation that you can that will prove the case that you lost your job through no fault of your own, including personnel files, communication from your employer, time sheets, and pink slips or layoff notices. You can ask your employer for these things if needed.
- Witnesses. Is there anyone who has personal knowledge of the circumstances surrounding your job loss who could speak as a witness for you? If so, ask them if they’d consider speaking at your hearing (whether that is in person or on video).
- Representation. If you’d like, you could bring in the services of an employment lawyer. Before retaining a lawyer, ask them about the costs for their services.
What to Do While Your Appeal is Ongoing
While your appeal is in process, continue applying for unemployment payments each week so that you will be able to receive your back payments if your appeal is accepted. Be sure that you continue to search for jobs and apply for them as well, since some states are now reinstating job search requirements for unemployment eligibility. Make sure you attend your unemployment appeal hearing: not showing up for your hearing is often grounds for your appeal to be denied. If you can’t come due to an emergency, be prepared to show proof, such as a doctors’ note. But if it is at all possible for you to make it, we highly recommend that you do so.
Hearing that your unemployment application was denied is terrible news to get after you’ve already lost your job. But don’t let a denial stop you from getting the benefits you’re entitled to. Many people receive their benefits after filing an appeal, so it’s absolutely worth your time to do so. If you’ve applied for unemployment but haven’t heard back yet, check out our free tracker to see unemployment progress in your state.
More Unemployment Info
📌Here’s our guide to extending your unemployment by 13 weeks during the pandemic.
📌Don’t let losing your job mean losing your health insurance: here’s everything you need to know to navigate COBRA.
📌What happens if you get offered a job while on unemployment that you can’t accept? Read our post to be sure you don’t lose your benefits.