How to Win an Unemployment Appeal for Benefits

The purpose of is to provide anyone trying to figure out how to win an unemployment appeal hearing for benefits with a different perspective of how and why and when it's possible.

For the benefit of DIYers, I have also provided many of the  official resources that I still use today that help greatly to interpret the intent behind the varying, state  unemployment laws.

There is also a whole lot of discussions where i tried to shared my experience as an employee who coordinated unemployment hearings so you might avoid being unprepared to win an appeal regardless of who disagreed with an initial determination of unemployment benefits.

And this is my first tip to a claimant who did indeed, lose their job through no fault of their own .. per unemployment insurance law.

Never assume  a board of review hands out  second chances for an unemployed novice to do that first hearing correctly.

Basically, prepare to win the first appeal, by proving what needs to be proven, or else you've all but lost already,  regardless of who is at fault.

Dire warnings aside, I was already coaching claimants in my head while I coordinated hearings for a UI cost control company before being laid off in 2006.    In that year 35 percent of the total  unemployed received benefits.

The chart above shows the change to just one unemployment statistic since a recession of epic proportions ended. 

In 2013, only 25 percent managed to get benefits, but it is troubling  that it is also, the lowest percentage recorded since the government began keeping this statistic in 1976.

Although I'm not a statistician, I do know where the basic problem lies for employees who become unemployed.

If we understood when we must be subordinate  in an at-will workplace and when we can reasonably protect our position at an unemployment appeal hearing, the clouds might lift on how  unemployment works, and how effective a process called  attrition can be.

Unemployment Laws and Resources

Unemployment Eligibility Discussions

 Filing an Unemployment Appeal

Every claim for benefits, has a moving party and that is what dictates  a legal-like (quasi) assignment of a burden to prove good cause for ending the at-will employment relationship.

  • When you quit a job you must prove good cause attributable to the work, or the employer.
  • When fired from a job,  the employer must prove  guilt of misconduct, connected to the work..

Win/wins are a rarity in unemployment insurance.  In simple terms a win/win is when the claimant get benefits and the employer's SUTA is not chargeable for the benefits.

One guess .. who do you think is better schooled about fulfilling a burden in a quasi-legal first level unemployment hearing, the one who gets the bennies, or the one who pays for them?

Losing an unemployment appeal hearing frequently, results in an overpayment of unemployment benefits.

Of course, all determinations issued by the claims section (different than a hearing decision issued by an appeal section) are appealable.

This would include overpayments to a claimant, and even charges to a SUTA account not removed by the state in a win/win rarity.

Unemployment Eligibility Q&As

An unemployment eligibility initial determination  always references an issue of UI law to allow, or deny unemployment benefits.

All non-monetary, (also called merit determinations) are appealable within the given deadline.  .  Failure to appeal timely results in a loss of right to appeal unless you can show good cause for the untimeliness.   But some states like Illinois and Georgia include the issue of timeliness on all hearing notices as S.O.P.  So don't freak out.

Just be timely if you disagree with the non-monetary eligibility determination regarding any of these issues.

Voluntary Leaving

Discharge for Misconduct

Refusal of Suitable Work

Able and Available

Job Search

Misrepresentation of Material Fact (Overpayments  are either Fraud, or Non-Fraud and the recovery provision are therefore of importance to know)

In addition, any monetary determination (the first determ. on a claim) can be appealed, but this one only has to do with the wages.  The monetary qualifies the earnings to establish a valid claim. 

The Burden of Collecting Unemployment
When You Quit a Job

Can you collect unemployment benefits when you quit a job?

The only good part about this question is it implies there is an outside  chance you haven't already quit your job,  or if you did, you might be the employee type  that also has  a workplace survivalist attitude.

Because voluntarily leaving a job makes you, the employee,  in legal terms, the moving  party who will be assigned the burden to prove good cause

.The Burden of Proving Good Cause to Quit

Can You Get Unemployment If Fired?

Can you get unemployment benefits when fired?

It depends.  Do you know you're  guilty of work related misconduct, or think .. not.

Being fired from a job in relationship to an unemployment claim means you should at least have a believable story that it wasn't for willful misconduct connect with the work.  Surprisingly,  there are lots of people who simply don't know that what they did was wrong.

Not even  after they read a  definition for what  work misconduct means. .

Qualifying for Unemployment is About Your Wages In Your Base Period.

Qualifying for unemployment benefits is not the same as being found otherwise eligible to collect  the benefit amount you qualified for .. especially if you quit or got fired. from a job.

Monetarily qualifying a claim is based upon the quarter of the year you filed a claim in and the wages in a look back twelve month period of time called the  base period.

There are three types of base periods.  Extended, Alternative, and Standard.  Not all states unemployment laws allow for these to be used to monetarily a claim, but I link to a handy chart that details the monetary qualifying requirements for all of them on the laws and resources page.

Qualifying. a Claim for Weekly Unemployment Benefits

Maintaining Conditional Unemployment Benefits Eligibility

If you  followed the rules of an employer to collect a paycheck you should be in good shape to avoid doing anything downright stupid to hurt your own ability to collect.

Once approved to receive benefits, or simply waiting on an unemployment appeal hearing to be scheduled so you can win it and start collecting ..   Youhave to follow some fairly straight forward rules of the state unemployment department to maintain your week to week continuing eligibility .. or to get the backpay when you win your hearing.

You must be ..

And not just any work, but ..

But if you turn down a job offer you should understand what might be unsuitable work for you based upon some general criteria about what might justify a

  • Refusal of Suitable Work  because it's unsuitable for you.

But of course .. the big question is why were you applying for unsuitable jobs.  Maybe because it was the only way to fulfill ..

  • Job Search Requirements 

Relevant Q&A's conditional eligibility requirements relate toand pop up frequently when someone asks a question about

Collecting Unemployment and Attending School or Training

Accepting a Job That May Be Unsuitable

Voluntary Quitting a Job That May Be Unsuitable

Getting Fired From a Job That May of Been Unsuitable

Quitting a Temporary Job That Might Be Unsuitable

Misreporting In Any Week You Continue Claiming

Or, any other misstep made while a benefit year is still in force.

And then, possibly ignoring your right to appeal a claim determination .. or knowing how to go about ...

Unemployment Law and Resources

Because  every unemployment claim determination, or hearing decision is supposed to be a fair and impartial doesn't mean an unemployed person has no responsibility to compel a hearing officer to issue a fair and impartial hearing decision.

UI Law Links and Other Interpretive Resources

So you can understand the issues of an unemployment benefits  appeal hearing..