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Tips to Collect Unemployment Benefits, or How to Win an Unemployment Appeal Hearing

When people file a claim because they believe they should be eligible to collect unemployment benefits, often they don't consider what they should do to avoid being denied unemployment and instead prove why they the relevant reasons why they really did lose their job through no fault of their own  

This is merely my opinion, but it's the result of working for a few companies whose goal was to reduce the cost of unemployment benefits for it's clients.  To achieve that goal they work to deny benefits for right, wrong, and often enough completely indifferent reasons, whether you quit with good cause, or were fired for something other than work misconduct ..  but only if you pay attention to the purpose and intents of how a state's unemployment laws can be made to work for benefits.. instead of against them.

To the end of you being able to get, or not have your unemployment benefits stopped, I offer referrals to a small group of professional unemployment hearing representatives.  They really do know how unemployment insurance works .. and their services are not as costly as an employment attorney's.  

In some cases there may also be my low cost unemployment coaching services to consider if after evaluating your case .. I think coaching is still suitable.

The states I cannot offer representation referrals for, is due to state rules.  You can read more about the rules here.  

Click here, if you want to learn more the unemployment services I offer.

Or just keep reading, or better still, using the search bar to find a tips that suits the cause of your separation .. or issue.

Can You Collect Unemployment Benefits?

In 2016 twenty-seven percent of the total unemployed nationwide, were able to receive unemployment benefits, but a significant portion of the seventy-three percent denied unemployment, probably didn't know how to prepare for and then verbally argue they weren't at fault to the burden of proof, central to many lower level, or tribunal appeal hearings.

This is also just my opinion, but it is based on my experience dealing with thousands of quasi-legal unemployment administrative law hearings where an approximated half of those denied may have in truth, not been at fault for losing their job when they quit, or got fired.

The Burden of Proof is Different for Quitting a Job, or Getting Fired

So, how do you improve the odds you will collect unemployment after you quit, or get fired through no fault of your own?

Well first off, I know you may need to accept something of a fact about the unemployment process in every state.

An initial determination denying, or allowing benefits, is easily appealed, but to argue to unemployment law to reverse an initial non-monetary determination (separation issue) at an unemployment hearing, you need to prepare for an unemployment appeal hearing with a basic, but sound understanding of what you should be arguing about .. once you appear for the hearing.

The reason is because the FIRST, or lower level appeal hearing is often your last legitimate shot to get the facts on the record .. that you need to have placed into the record.

Secondly, you should know now that I know it's documenting significant actions and conversations while you're still employed, to create evidence is what improves your odds of winning an unemployment hearing because evidence weights, or shores up you story to become the credible facts that persuade a hearing officer to allow you to collect benefits .. no matter what the claim adjudicator determined after a phone call to acquire the "available information" by a deadline before they must issue the determination.

Whatever you decide you decide you should document about as an employee, it needs to be relevant and not beat around the bush or the problem you're trying to resolve with an employer.  So .. connect your story to the proper burden of proof .. because it's a safe bet, you're employer is documenting if they have to take on the burden of firing you for misconduct, or choosing not to document, if they hope you will just quit .. and then not be able to meet your burden of proving fault, attributable to the employer.

Different issues derived from unemployment laws do have different criteria  that is central to proving, or rebutting a burden.

For instance .. are you about to quit, or refuse suitable work, or has a once suitable job somehow become unsuitable within the confines of criteria used to judge when that happens?

You should also know I'm not an unemployment lawyer, but then again if I were .. I'd be as rare as a unicorn.  

Unemployment insurance law is administrative law while your claim to benefits is still under the authority of a state UI agency.   But, a little known fact is UI administrative law is practiced daily by non-attorneys.

Most for a state, but many other work in an industry called UI cost control which is where I learned a lot, but especially about the initial claim level and lower level appeal hearings I used to coordinate daily for professional unemployment hearing representatives.

To win an unemployment appeal hearing, you as a claimant .. just need to go the extra mile to get more understanding about one, or two issue out of just a handful, that show up on hearing notices whether you, or your employer appeals to get an unemployment appeal hearing, whether the appeal is for the right, wrong, or indifferent reason.

Prevention:  The Pound of Cure to Collect Unemployment .. Legitimately

"An ounce of prevention, is worth a pound of cure."  Thank you Benjamin Franklin .. for the wisdom that still suits life today .. even when it comes to choosing the right avenue of UI law to pursue to win a hearing.

Prevention made things easier for me when I lost my job, but actively worked on my ability to collect unemployment without any problems in 2006 after I was laid off, and then again in 2009 when I voluntarily quit the same job I'd been laid off from.

My job was to assess the burden of proof and then essentially, improve, or exploit the weakness in the burden .. which was often a gift I found in a self disqualifying claimant's appeal letter .. that often read more like a short story about a pity party they were throwing for themselves.

Come on fellow people.  Now is the time to put boo boo kitty feelings aside and focus on being objective .. to find out how ..if you can make the laws work for you .. instead of against you.

So, why not start by knowing what a K.I.S.S. Unemployment Appeal Letter might look like.

Unemployment laws sometimes aren't the best resources for learning, but your state may have resources, that begin to explain how it's individual state's UI laws are regulated to work by the state UI agency.

And then there is the problems we face of what lies between all the varied rules, laws and regulations, and that can be an undiscoverable fact we need discovered to collect.  The truth about what occurred while you were still an employee and eventually led to a final incident causing you to quit your job, or get fired is at the heart of good cause to end an employment relationship.

Unemployment hearings across this country can often sound more like an argument over who is at fault for a marriage ending.

Basic unemployment advice attempts to lay the groundwork for what employees miss, but often don't become aware of until after they needed to prepare to meet, or rebut the burden of proof at the FIRST unemployment hearing, because I know proving the truth means it becomes a credible fact, connected to law when assessed according to the question posed by an issue found on a hearing notice.

If you are here at a point you have been initially allowed, or denied the right to collect, I think you still need to get prepared for a hearing .. because the fact is .. initial determinations, whether it allowed, or denied benefits, presents a fairly easy right to due process for the aggrieved party to the initial determination to appeal for a hearing .. aka the full fact finder.

Many are  surprised by what they believe to be an erroneous initial claim determination.

Please don't waste too much time being surprised though, because my advice is to not hesitate to request the state's claim file on you.  It can be helpful for those who run across information in that official file to either explain what caused the denial of benefits, or hopefully, why you should proceed to prepare for winning an appeal hearing .. regardless of appeals.

Free Advice to Collect Unemployment Benefits

For those who want to submit a new free question.

If your goal is simply to take me to task, and disagree with a tip or how I answered someone, please feel free to offer constructive feedback here.

What's New on the Unemployment Blog

  1. Thanks for the Assistance Chris

    Sep 20, 17 03:49 PM

    I reached out to Chris for help involving my denial of unemployment benefits in Georgia. I received very prompt and thoughtful help. It really does make

    Read More

  2. I Won My Arizona Unemployment Hearing

    Sep 20, 17 03:48 PM

    Hi Chris, Well, I am relieved to report that the judge decided in my favor after the Appeal Hearing. Attached is the written decision. I am so grateful

    Read More

  3. 1 case appealed denied (original), 2nd granted to reopen?

    Sep 09, 17 03:37 PM

    I'm in NY. First case,(1st court date) the employer did not show up. I testified, decision for ui benefits granted. That case was appealed and reopened.

    Read More

  4. Affirmed

    Sep 04, 17 02:37 PM

    My unemployment appeal decision stated i am affirmed. what does that mean? This means that whatever the initial determination said is affirmed by the

    Read More

  5. A few thing that can happen when your employer has appealed to the board of review

    Sep 04, 17 12:47 PM

    I am going through an appeal review next week. My case is in the state of NV. What can I expect if I lose my unemployment benefits? This is the second

    Read More

  6. I didn't know I could file?????

    Sep 02, 17 06:03 PM

    I quit/fired from my job in March of 2017. Have struggled to find work. Its September 2017 and haven't found a job. Someone told me I could file for

    Read More

  7. Employer is saying I quit and I didn't.

    Aug 31, 17 01:59 PM

    Employer is saying I quit and I didn't. I was fired from my last job because I requested that my schedule be changed because I was having transportation

    Read More

  8. Disaster Unemployment Benefits Available in 18 Texas Counties for Hurricane Harvey.

    Aug 30, 17 12:56 PM

    The current deadline for applying for emergency unemployment benefits as of the notice issued on August 28th was September 27, 2017.

    Read More

  9. My boss won't schedule me or fire me

    Aug 28, 17 12:26 PM

    I've only work at my job for about a month or so but my first two weeks I worked anywhere from 3 1/2 hours to 7 hours with no days off or any breaks then

    Read More

  10. I'm being caused emotional distress at work by a co-worker. If I'm fired will I be able to collect unemployment?

    Aug 27, 17 11:41 AM

    I'm being caused emotional distress at work by a co-worker. If I'm fired will I be able to collect unemployment? i've been working at my current job

    Read More

  11. Is This Proof, or Not I was Fired for a Safety Violation, But Not Misconduct?

    Aug 25, 17 02:57 PM

    Is there any justification in being terminated for a safety violation ie. not wearing proper safety equipment when it is the responsibility of the employer/

    Read More

Documents Documents Documents - Why'd You Write That In Your Unemployment Appeal Letter?

Relevant documentation, when you have it, and it's relevant to you winning, adds the important weight of credibility to an unemployment story .. whether the burden is yours, or the employer's and regardless of who appealed.  

But the thing about the appeal rights, found on claim determinations, it those rights make it so darn easy for the aggrieved party to write a very short appeal letter, to get their day to explain why they disagree at an unemployment hearing.  

Yet winning unemployment hearings when you're the claimant, can be altogether different than what you might actually be prepared to do.

Some points about being prepared I hope you will consider, are those found in a short book written by a former California EDD ALJ.  It's called ..

"27 Ways to Avoid Losing an Unemployment Hearing 

You can also check out my  tips about unemployment appeals, including how not to write a self disqualifying appeal letter, orwhat you should be appealing if you're planning to offer a written argument on why you deserve to get benefits .. again  .. to the board of review.

And don't forget .. there's lots more in the Q&As about unemployment appeal hearings.

When Unemployment Claims Work.. Initially

Initially, every state unemployment department knows it is federally mandated by DOLETA's guidelines, to make timely initial claim determinations.  

The first claim determination is to establish how much unemployment will pay you.  This is called the monetary, or award letter.

The second is referred to as the non-monetary, or separation eligibility determination.  This is the determination most employers I worked with, will appeal, whether they are right, wrong, or indifferent to the merits needed to win a lower level unemployment appeal hearing, often referred to as a tribunal hearing. 

The initial adjudication phase, although conducted similarly from state to state because of wide federal guidelines, is not the end of the unemployment process, but potentially, a new beginning where the cause whether you're allowed, or denied benefits can proceed to the unemployment appeal section.

Unlike where the standard of law goes up a notch, or two for the moving party to sustain their burden to prove good cause for ending an at-will employment relationship.

Free Advice So You Can Figure Out How, When, If and Why You Can Collect Unemployment .. After an Unemployment Hearing

Free Articles    If I wrote it, it's because I learned it on a job where I had to consider the basic concepts that could give an employer the required ability to sustain an employee was at fault for the reason they were fired, and sadly, why the employee / claimant couldn't sustain their burden of proving the fault for voluntarily quitting a job .. was that of their employer .. or based on an exception to the rule found in state unemployment laws.

Supplemental FAQs - When a non-attorney discusses their understanding of the basics of proving, rebutting and identifying issues to argue fault to the the correct burden of proof before you initially apply for benefits, or  attend the FIRST unemployment appeal hearing .. it's good to also read their legal disclaimer.

If you find the information helpful let me know and I'll just be grateful for the job experience that made me think offering free tips and then unemployment services for claimants was worth it for us both .. before the unemployment process moves you beyond the jurisdiction of a state unemployment department .. and to a real appellate court .. where you will be restricted to only the services of real unemployment attorneys.

Should You Appeal to Collect Unemployment Benefits

You may be eligible to receive unemployment IF you lost your job through no fault of your own.

Allow me to offer my interpretation of what this may mean .. 

You may expect clear skies, IF you apply for unemployment after being laid off,  but if you quit your job with good cause, or get fired without it and then apply, expect your base period employer(s), to have a different and more focused version of the unemployment story about the cause.  Their story is usually intended to give the impartial State UI administrative law agency, a workable reason to rain on your eligibility parade ...

And on a personal note, the reason it frequently rains, is because employees don't know how, when, or which umbrella to open up to keep the burden of proof from raining on them, after they quit, or get terminated.

Sorry about the umbrella .. metaphorically speaking.  But at least I didn't use one about unemployment insurance benefits as being an economic safety net, we need to see the holes in  .. before we jump.

Filing an unemployment appeal is easy to do.  It's preparing to win and then executing the argument you prepared at the hearing, that presents the challenge for even those who do quit, or get fired through no fault of their own.

Unemployment Appeals and Hearings

Monetary Unemployment Eligibility

When you apply for unemployment benefits, you receive a monetary determination first and it  qualifies you for the amount of a weekly unemployment benefits.   This determination is appealable.  

But the but .. is that getting paid unemployment benefits, depends on the outcome of the second determination, referred to as the non-monetary.      

How much unemployment should pay you each week, can be important to know how to calculate, so you know when to appeal.

Monetarily Unemployment Eligibility Q&As Found Here

Non-Monetary Separation Eligibility

Fault is the operative word for most unemployment claims.  When someone doesn't know how to file for unemployment, they often reveal information themselves that make an initial denial of benefits possible, but still based only upon the available information.

The cause of separation from at-will employment in the U.S., signals which relevant details an unemployment administrative law agency works to uncover when the gatekeepers (claim department) initially adjudicate your claim to see if you can prove good cause to quit, or rebut why the employer didn't have good cause to fire you from a job.

Somewhere in relevant details about the cause, is where you uncover either an ability to collect unemployment benefits legitimately, or a roadblock that that can cause both correct and erroneous denials of benefits.  

Proving Your Truth to a Standard of Law Called a Preponderance

How to Quit a Job With Good Cause and Then Prove It

Denials of unemployment benefits frequently determine the employee who quit their job, did so for good personal cause,  but then go on to say they quit without good cause because they are unable to meet the standard of law used to establish a preponderance of proof needed that proves the voluntary quit was due to fault attributable to being that of the employer.  So ...

What Don't Employees Do That Could Allow Them Prove Good Cause to Quit and Collect Unemployment?

Q&As About Quitting a Job

When Misconduct Isn't the Reason for Being Fired From a Job

Being found guilty of misconduct and denied when fired from a job doesn't rarely leave employees with a good feeling, because it sounds a whole lot worse than saying cause for termination is similar to what is mean by fault, attributable to the employee.  But if the points made by a court's definition is the standard for what an employer is expected to prove for you to be denied unemployment benefits when you violate an employer rule, or willfully chose not to meet certain standards of behavior, or expectations, there's room to argue when an at will employer fired you without good cause, for bad cause, or for no cause at all.

Here's a Definition of Work Related Misconduct You Can Work With to Find an Argument

Q&As About Being Fired From a Job

Take Charge of Your Unemployment Benefits Destiny

Unemployed people tend to take a determination, saying they were at fault .. out of context, and frequently too much to heart, that it interferes with how they reason their way through the unemployment claiming experience.  

Here's an OBJECTIVE suggestion and I make with truly, only your best interest in mind.   Read an initial non-monetary separation determination thoroughly at least one time.   And please do take special note of a common term used to explains how the unemployment process works at the beginning of all claims.  

Based upon the available information it is determined .. 

That is not the same standard of law applied at unemployment appeal hearings .. where the standard of proof jumps up a notch .. or two to a preponderance of the credible testimony and/or evidence.

From the perspective it's a good idea to do a bit of determining yourself, before you weigh in on what facts and circumstances you need to make available to the unemployment claims department, you can begin to see what might help you if you do need to appeal, or more likely an employer appeals because you were allowed to collect unemployment.

I worked for a company that represented employers at these hearings, I wasn't a hearing rep, but I coordinated the pre-hearing efforts for those reps.  Although I know it is documentation that adds weight to what people testify to, I talked one on one with employer witnesses (just another employee with authority to act as an agency of the employing unit) and if impressions could count, impunity to do as they please with that power .. regardless of what was suggested by a pile of documents.

Whether you believe you quit your job with good cause, or were fired from your job for something other than misconduct connected to the work, remember, it is the moving party expected to know beforehand they must initially meet the burden of proof to blame the non-moving party based upon the available information after a separation from a job.

There's more to the ability to reverse, or sustain an initial determination than just documentation if the testimony suggest something else.

So ..  why unemployment tips for employees?  

It was just a hope, I could alter the mindset of unemployed people who felt desperate as employees and carried that same desperation with them when they applied for benefits.

When you know how unemployment works before you quit, or get fired, you at least have choices you can make that could eventually give you some control, to participate in actively arguing to, or against the quasi-legal merits that meet, or rebut the damn burden of the moving party.

Neither you, nor your employer determines fault.   But even an employee has the right to take reasonable actions in the at will employment relationship, intended to be supportive if an employer gives them good cause to quit a job.  Or to use that employee comment section of a write-up to counter document why misconduct is not the reason for the written warning from an employee who will terminate you and then call it work misconduct.  

Your State Unemployment Administrative Law Agency has the authority to make objective calls on benefits .. not you personally .. so if you think you need to appeal .. go for it and if your employer appeals .. attend that hearing to at least explain .. what you have learned, so they think twice .. about assuming employees are just to ignorant of how UI works .. to not know how they work it.

Get Your Unemployment PROOF In Order

I coordinated thousands of unemployment appeal hearings on behalf of employers, to say unequivocally, evidence created before a job ends, is what made that job and the  hearing rep's, easier if the employee was fired for misconduct.   And harder to do, on the rare occasion an employee surprised me with documentary evidence supporting why they had quit with good cause attributable to the employer .. while there was still an employment relationship.. and employer may not of mentioned to me.

Some evidence created after a job is ended can also serve to ward off conditional eligibility flags on claims.

Take my own story for instance.

It' True Because I Say It Is!  But is It Also a Credible Fact?

Not that there aren't a lot of he said / she said circumstances that surround the arguments of how people become separated from a job, but since credibility is the judgement call of the reasonable person conducting the hearing, I myself preferred, not leaving credibility of the facts I knew were true,  up to a hearing officer who might be inclined to procedurally victimize me .. given they do have wide discretion to decide whose story is more credible .. when there is no evidence to add weight to verbal testimony given at hearings.

Clearly, this scenario is what I hope you can avoid .. because when there is no evidence to speak of, or cross examine on, it doesn't bode well for an appeal to a board of review to be successful .. unless the hearing officer's decision .. might not match well with what is on the actual recording of a hearing.

Having a verbal story found to be the most credible, has much to do with why I recommend representation at unemployment appeal hearings.    It simply works to have an expert on how these hearings are supposed to work, on your side at a  hearing with the knowledge that can compel even less than impartial hearing officers to pay attention to how unemployment law should work for your case.

Do You Believe You Were Fired From Your Job for Something Other Than Misconduct?

If you were fired from you job and think you should be able to collect unemployment benefits, you may, or may not need to do more than hope your employer can't prove your guilt of work related misconduct depending on what you think your employer can prove.  

Just being fired, however, should make a reasonable consider what misconduct actually means in a big picture sort of way.  

So .. how do employers meet their burden to prove misconduct .. even if you know, or just think otherwise?

Documentation (evidence) in the form of written warnings, reprimands, coachings, or whatever they call the elements when gathering what's needed for a progressive discipline paper trail.  

The icing on this cake, if you ask me would be proof the employee was made aware of the rules before they violated some rule, or policy found among all the terms and conditions controlling varying at-will employment relationships, usually subject to an at-will disclaimer, found at the front employee handbooks, along with a document called a signed acknowledgement that you received the rules of engagement.

The cherry on top, that really can help sustain fault as guilt of misconduct, is the nail of final written evidence you were made aware your job was in actual jeopardy, before you were fired, up to and including termination.  

But, to throw some nuts on top .. let's consider what no counter, or employee comments on these written forms do when it's your turn to rebut why you were fired for something other than work related misconduct.

Q&As about the Burden of Getting Fired here.

What is Good Cause to Quit Your Job Voluntarily and Collect Unemployment

To discuss how to quit with good cause, means someone has to accept some facts about the precarious nature of working at will .. and that someone .. ain't me.  

You can have a potential good cause, but still not be able to PROVE it once scrutinized by an unemployment department to see how the fault was attributable to an employer,

It might help if we think of a voluntary quit from suitable work, as good cause to fire your employer, except for the fact employee don't know where to draw the line between working in the best interests of their employer and what's in their own best interest .. while still an employee to start documenting problems and potential solutions to show they made efforts to first preserve their employment.

Documentation (evidence) is how employers prove their burden and it's how employees might also prove a burden through well phrased, but purposeful written evidence of their own.

Let's face it .. it's hard to prove why you quiton an impulse .. unless you can prove you made the employer aware of what the good cause was while an employee and gave them an opportunity to correct a problem.

Now .. as long as your problem doesn't fail the hypersensitivity test ..

Here's Q&As about Quitting a Job With Good Cause 

Conditional Unemployment Eligibility Requirements

Not maintaining conditional eligibility to receive unemployment is generally speaking, an avoidable problem.

Just read the  "claimant handbook" (you should receive it after applying, and before you know if you get benefits based on cause for separation .. or not).  Conditional .. is all about the rules while you collect, or while waiting for an unemployment appeal hearing to finally be able to begin collecting.

  • You must apply for jobs in each week you claim benefits.  When wise, you will use the log (evidence) to detail your job searches each and every week you collect, even a partial unemployment benefit amount in the event your claim is flagged, or just subjected to a random job search audit.
  • You cannot refuse an offer of suitable work while collecting benefits.
  • You must report all wages (and even some other types of earnings in some states) each week you claim benefits.
  • You must be able and available to search for and accept suitable work in each and every week you claim benefits .. including when many of you will opt to use a period of unemployment to go to school .. or job training.

Question Your Argument to Receive Unemployment, Before Any Tribunal (Lower Level) Unemployment Appeal Hearing

It's important to question just about everything as to how UI works, but I know it can be vital to know how to approach the issue(s) listed on a notice of hearing because those issues are related to the burden of proof and the first unemployment appeal hearing .. is generally speaking an employer's, or your own last shot to get the argument right .. unless you also know how to protect your rights to due process .. before the hearing.

Problem is .. claimants get all wrapped up in how they feel about losing a job .. rather than anything that might be relevant to the issue, burden and their ability to collect, or keep benefits  .. like finding the facts with teeth to argue objectively to how unemployment law and procedures are supposed to be used .. to make things work out in your favor.

How Does the Unemployment Appeal Process Work .. Basically

Questions should lead to answers .. but when you begin to consider the question in relationship to what you know about the workings of unemployment insurance benefits, the cause and reason for unemployment, may sound identical .. except for how we are expected to know how to connect the finer details of our own unique job separation .. to the burden of proof.

Generally, I find these differences in what I'm told by you and make an off the top of my head assessment, of how well the moving party might prove facts that might help rebut, or meet the burden to prove fault for the reason behind a job separation. 

If you take nothing else, into consideration, know orienting your fight, or argument to the burden .. is your problem.

But with what I know about unemployment I do try to resolve the issue objectively to see if I can identify the most obvious quasi-legally based argument that will work for you, or at least illuminated a wide swathe you may of left for a state, mandated to be objectively fair and impartial to deny benefits initially, but still correct itself if an appeal is filed.

One of the main reasons I've always focused my answers on how to win an unemployment hearing .. is because I think there is nothing sadder than an avoidable overpayment of unemployment determination .. when someone loses .. a winnable unemployment hearing.

More Criteria for How a Burden of Proof is Met .. and Not

There's also a lot of  free unemployment law resources.  Problem is .. State and Federal Governments seem to enjoy playing hide and seek .. or they might of just eliminated the information I have personally bookmarked over the last two decades.  

So, if a link isn't working .. let me know, and even better, don't be shy to let me know where it might of been moved if you find it again .. or if you found a good resource that helped you understand something critical to understanding how unemployment insurance benefits work .. state by state.  

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