How to Win an Unemployment Appeal ?

Believing you lost your job through no fault of your own is not enough to win an unemployment appeal,  as many unemployed people who have already lost an unemployment hearing,  can attest to.

Getting and keeping unemployment benefits is as much about being prepared to win for  those claiming benefits,  as it is for the  company with  a very real  and vested monetary interest in denying benefits.

If you think you paid a tax on your wages to collect  regular unemployment benefits, only people in three states would be able to prove it if they showed it as a payroll deductions on a pay stub.  

But then's  wasn't begun to explain unemployment tax issues, but is a valid point for fighting claims .. legitimately.

Instead, I decided to try to explain to unemployed people how not to lose an unemployment appeal when there is the  potential for winning based on real merits  .. i.e., provable  facts which lead to a company being charged for the benefits paid to those who did in fact, lose their job through no fault of their own.

Legitimate Reasons to Claim Unemployment Benefits

 Many businesses fight both legitimate and frivolous   unemployment claims without regard to what really happened.    

The question I have about the way unemployment works today  is  the human  cost that  justified  amoral,  and frivolous appeals while I worked for a cost control company.

 Even unsustainable appeals  can be entirely focused, on  what can be proven to satisfy an appeal authority and result in a favorable ruling that ignores what really happened because the claimant didn't know how to prove  a part of their story as credible.

Employers  know what makes many a good appeal case weak for a claimant.  It's you the inexperienced claimant.  

You must also know what makes  your employer's case weak.  Furthermore, to win, you must learn how to exploit  weakness via a valid argument, which is  often strengthened via a cross examination of your employer's direct witnesses with first hand knowledge.

Digging into details draws the cause for your separation out into the light so the situation can  be fully explored.

This  is difficult for the novice unemployed person who up until this first level unemployment hearing, may of felt victimized by the witness they now face.

Although I am not an attorney and do not offer answers as legal advice,   I know more than enough about how unemployment works,  to know many unemployed people lose appeal hearings for no other reason than not knowing  how to prepare for one, or how to effectively represent  winning facts against an employers guarded argument.

But then, I learned about this stuff when I had a job which included contracting  professional unemployment  hearing representatives for employers and they are the real unemployment experts everyone could benefit from having easy access to.

If you are about to embark on self representation, my advice is to focus your argument on unemployment law and to seriously consider how strategic knowledge of who has the  burden -  because they chose to end the employment relationship  - can lead you to better use of the rules of procedure that govern the conduct of  and administrative  unemployment law hearing to ensure you are getting a fair and impartial shot at winning.

Because the first hearing, is usually everyone's   last chance to get, or keep your unemployment benefits  using those rules of procedure .. to  avoid an overpayment.

I am not overstating the importance of the first hearing.  

Lose it,  and  I'd lay odds you're done for .. unless the "record" proves  you protected your own rights to due process .. well.

Questions About Winning Unemployment Appeal Hearings

I don't think there's a  question  about collecting unemployment  that knowing the answer .. wouldn't be more beneficial while you still  had a job, but most employees are not that proactive about heading off appeal troubles.

I mean, that is the period of time,  when smart employers prepare to deny benefits, if an unemployment hearing becomes necessary.

You may  need to learn some basics that help readjust your mental outlook  from the emotional perspective of a victimized employee ,  to what the unemployment law demands, objectivity and reasonableness as a pro se participant in a quasi-legal administrative law proceeding. 

The reasons for a job separation can fall short of a burden when a party didn't   take steps to  fulfill the  burden of proof while that relationship still existed.

The following are the two questions I'm asked most often.    

But if you don't get understand what the burden is, or who gets that hot potato .. you cannot evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of your own case.

The Beginning of Every Unemployment Claim is To Make Sure You Qualify .. Monetarily

An unemployment claim is an initial,  two step process.    Because states run the mandated unemployment insurance program under wide guidelines  the  processes can vary slightly, but this also adds to the confusion, until you get some multi-state unemployment insurance experience under your belt.

So, for purposes of finding monetary questions about an unemployment claim easier, I filed them under unemployment insurance questions.

Initial Non-Monetary Determination:  Eligibility

Yippee, you earned enough to qualify.    

When you have been monetarily qualified and informed of how much unemployment will pay, your claim is then investigated to find out if you are eligible to receive unemployment based upon the facts surrounding the reason and cause for separation from your job.

This is the point where those charts at the top of the page come in handy to find out if you live in a pro employer .. or pro claimant stated, but overall, it is estimated seventy-five percent won't fare well nationwide and will be initially be denied benefits for one, or more of the following basic issues of unemployment laws.

Being Initially Denied, or Allowed Unemployment Benefits Is Not The End of Claiming Unemployment

Unless, an interested party to an unemployment claim ignores their right to appeal a determination on a claim to the appeal section so a lower authority tribunal  hearing  can be scheduled for both parties to come together in front of an administrative law judge, hearing officer, hearing examiner,  hearing referee, or whatever the title -  

Unemployment appeal hearings are also called, full fact finders.  Probably because you are allowed to testify, submit evidence, call witnesses and cross examine the other party's witnesses.  You can also make objections and requests on the record created by this first and only hearing level for appeals.

Here's some  FAQs about  the unemployment appeal process.

The Three Valid Reasons to  Apply for Unemployment Benefits  

If three reasons doesn't sound like enough, don't worry, there's enough sub categories once you start reading interpretive guidelines to cover just about any  unique separation situation you're still a bit off-balance from.

At will employees are either  laid off,  voluntarily quit, or  fired by their employer.

There's no special page for being laid off for a lack of work because  It's the only cause for an employer initiated termination there should always be employer confirmation with the initial response you were  not at fault for the lack of work situation.     (I do not have my head in the sand and have   know for some time now, some companies sidestep admitting their culpability, or fault, regardless of what they told you at separation, but this may also be an issue of an appeal.)

After you apply for unemployment, the claims dept. immediately notifies the employer which reason you chose on your application.  The state expects a response, and they may also ask the employer for wage information  for the first determination issued on all claims.  It's called  the monetary determination and it doesn't make you eligible, but qualified if you are determined eligible.

When you apply, you're not only saying you think you have qualifying wages, but are actually certifying ... you believe you lost your job through no fault of your own.  This is decided with what is called the non-monetary determination of benefits.

So, the typical order of a paid claim might go something like this ..

  • Determined to have earned enough to qualify for a weekly benefit amount
  •  Determined to of been laid off for a lack of work
  •  Fired for something not  misconduct 
  •  Voluntarily quit with  good cause
  • And Benefits are Paid

But those benefits, are still subject to a first level appeal.

What you should be aware of if you are initially allowed to collect what you monetarily qualified for .. is you're not the only party to your claim with unemployment appeal rights to reverse an initial determination. 

But most people asked questions only after they were were initially denied unemployment benefits and worse, after they had already lost the first unemployment appeal hearing.

  • Some quit their job with good cause.  Yet, most  resigned in a way that could be an example of how not to quit a job .. or at least without anything to serve as proof of good cause.
  • Some are fired from their job.    Yet, most didn't feel the gravity, or extent to which their employer might go to prove it was for something that meet the definition of work misconduct.  or a valid objective argument to rebut  it was for something  other than  work misconduct.
  • Some were allowed benefits for a legitimate lack of work claim, but ran into trouble with some of the conditional eligibility requirements for maintaining benefits. such as suitable work, able and available, or the required job search.

Tips About Preparing for an Unemployment Appeal Hearing

Tip #1 comes from a conversation I had with a hearing officer who conducted appeal hearings.

Tell them not to throw mud at the wall hoping it will stick.

Basic I know, but apparently, he thought it needed to be said.

The ability to win requires an objective approach .. which is not how even I, normally like to roll, but I had lots of practice setting aside how I felt sometimes at work.

There is no better on the job training that repetition.  

So, I repeated and repeated answers about  the appeal process, unemployment insurance benefits eligibility requirements and issues .. until repeating myself felt futile and quit to do something I thought would be even better.

Here are the  Q&As  about getting unemployment benefits

They all appeared at one time or another on the Unemployment Appeal  blog.

Identify The Party Who Must
Prove and Sustain Good Cause

Did you know non-attorneys can practice unemployment law in thirty-nine states.

Did you ever think you'd have to consider who must sustain a "burden of proof" as part of your winning appeal strategy.

"What's My Line" -   A panel of celebrities in TV's younger days,  They asked questions of a contestant to peg their precise occupation.

What's The Story
Behind The  Unemployment Appeal?

Common Unemployment Benefit Questions are one thing, but Answers were intended to focus a story on issues of UI law.

Undoubtedly,  I lost the attention of a lot of unemployed people .. just by asking .. too specific a  question to drag a part of the story out I sensed might not of been shared with me.  

Whatever the case, my intent was to focus YOU to see your issue of law matters.

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