How to Win an Unemployment Appeal

Winning unemployment appeals should always begin with a plan.  One built on how unemployment law is supposed to work and executed during the first unemployment hearing.

Because there are no second chance do-overs if you screw it up the lower level appeal hearing.

If you sincerely believe you lost your job through no fault of your own and now need to know how to appeal a denial of benefits, or respond when an employer decides to fight your benefits .. I'm glad you're here.

Former employers, generally have a plan in place while you're still an employee, for how they will try to win the first hearing, right, wrong, or indifferently.  

When you don't know how to expose, or take advantage of the inherent weaknesses of being wrong, or indifferent to what is true by the time you get to that first hearing .. your benefits are already in trouble.

This is just the tip of what many never consider, but should, about who an unemployment appeal hearing ends up working for, after it's done and over.

Ready to learn about good cause for and against, winning an unemployment hearing? 

Professional Unemployment Appeal Representative Tip

Here's a tip from a hearing representative for sounding more credible during your unemployment phone interview before the initial determination of benefits is issued.

"Before you apply for unemployment benefits,  sit down and write a chronological timeline of significant events, but start with final incident and work backward in time from it with the significant and relevant events that led to the final incident.  

The final incident is what all unemployment adjudicators need you to focus on, but when you dance around answering a direct question, that may be taken as meaning you have reason to evade the question. 

The written timeline will keep you focused on the question before you, so pay close attention to exactly what you were asked.   Timelines are a good way to cement important facts, names and dates,  and use for giving concise and focused hearing testimony, in the event someone does need to appeal the initial determination.

(Liz has represented claimants and employer at hearings in many western states, including CA, NV, WA, OR, CO, ID, NM, and TX.

Winning Unemployment Appeals Is About
Sustaining a Sound Reason as Good Cause

How you feel about why you quit your job, or why you were discharged, is seldom what is needed to sustain good cause.

So, the question may be to ask yourself  who has the responsibility to prove and sustain good cause, or how that can be rebutted to not be good cause relative to how unemployment law explains both good reasons and that other thing ... good cause. 

Unemployment When You Quit a Job

The basic rule about unemployment when you quit your job is good cause must be attributable to the work, or employer.  

This is how the myth got started - that quitting is never for good cause.   But the myth, ignores every employment security act in the U.S. that says it is possible. 

If questions about unemployment when quitting a job are any indication, most people do not go the distance and make a real attempt to fulfill their burden, or document efforts to preserve the job before they quit.

Unemployment When You Get Fired

The basic rule about unemployment when you get fired is your employer must prove you're guilty of work related misconduct.

It's not a myth that more people collect unemployment when fired, than those that quit and yet, employers do prepare for the burden of proving misconduct.

If questions about unemployment when getting fired are any indication, a boss will fire people for reasons other than what fits nicely into a definition of misconduct, even if they try to make it look and sound like it.

Questions About Getting Unemployment Benefits

Show me proof of action.  Well, not really me, but the unemployment claim adjudicator and then maybe an unemployment appeal hearing officer .. anyway.

It is an unemployment question many unemployed people learn a day late and often not until the first unemployment hearing ends.

But what if winning a hearing weren't hinged on proof and listened only to he said / she said testimony?    It would be a free-for-all and dependent on who was capable of still making the most compelling verbal only argument, to convince the hearer of facts who would still be mandated to focus their decision on law, not how they, or you feel about it. 

Over the years I found a challenge I once just perceived, to be a real big problem for claimants of benefits.

They have difficulty separating the issue of getting unemployment from often, still fresh emotions of how and why they came to lose their job .. even when the first hearing starts, all they have ready and available is their emotions, which in the end, serve to clutter and dilute their story about the issue listed on the notice of hearing.

Since many unemployed people can't afford the low cost appeal hearing services offered through this site, I still, occasionally answer good unemployment benefit questions, and every one ends up on the blog.  

If I answer,  I am not above forcing an issue of UI law to the front so it can be scrutinized with regard to how win an unemployment hearing.  

When someone has already paid close attention and read the articles and other questions and answer about unemployment benefits in general, a good question can turn into a discussion.

Many questions started just like this ..

Appealing With the
Purpose of Winning

If it wasn't your fault, then whose?  And why should I believe you?

In my experience, most unemployment appeals weren't filed by the claimant, but the employer right after you first allowed to receive benefits on their dime.  

Employers are frequently successful at proving a claimant to be at fault for a discharge by focusing testimony to the documents (often the write-ups) which weight their testimony to prove misconduct.

But, winning unemployment hearings can be greatly improved when you know where to focus your argument in the unemployment law at any point in the process, but definitely by the time your FIRST hearing and last chance to set the record straight arrives.

The first unemployment appeal is the last resort to set the RECORD straight

Each first level (lower authority) unemployment appeal results in an administrative law hearing, or a semi-formal proceeding which allows both parties (employee and employer) their one shot to create a full record of the facts and evidence each thinks is important to establish good cause, or rebut that any cause was good enough for UI law.

Basically, your last chance to prove who was at fault, for the job ending, but one party will be assigned the burden to prove good cause for ending it.

When you file a claim you're assumed to know unemployment benefits are provided when you're not at fault for a reason covered by a state's unemployment and that proving good cause may not be just a one time thing.

This burden, throughout the claim investigation process can be described as something that swings like a pendulum from one party to the other while the available information is being gathered.  When the time comes to issue the initial determination .. it stops swinging, whether all the facts and evidence are in yet, or not.

Grasp this and you'll understand it sometimes stop swinging where where you don't want it to stop.  That's when you appeal, or give up the ghost.

No matter if you were denied unemployment benefits for a voluntary quit, or a discharge it's the first appeal that gives you your one opportunity to set the record straight as to why you believe the initial determination to be erroneous.

What about board of review appeals?  They are for proving why you deserve a new, or additional first shot to do it right.  Deceptively simple, but oh so hard to win.

Questions and Answers About Appeals and Hearings

Burdens - Who's Got the Burden to
Prove Good Cause In Unemployment?

Do not underestimate why good cause is a burden to prove .

Assigning the burden to the party who must prove good cause is an easy thing to do.  When you're fired for cause .. any cause, it's the employer that must prove.  

When you quit a job for whatever your reason may be, it of course is you who must prove your cause as being satisfactory. 

Either way, satisfactory cause is dictated by unemployment law and precedent decisions that interpret  good cause under different circumstances ... not how you feel about getting fired or quitting a job, or why you you think it was unfair, or necessary.

Now might be a good time to pick a burden to see what it is you, or the employer is supposed to prove to have good cause. 

  • Quitting a job
  • Getting fired 

Can You Collect Unemployment
Benefits When You Quit a Job?

You might of quit your job.   Maybe, you're just fantasizing about doing it.  Stop it!  There's a reason for the myth you can never collect unemployment when you quit .. even if every state's unemployment law says you can if you quit with good cause.

So what's the problem with quitting that a myth was born?

 good cause to quit your job until you calculate your ability to meet and sustain the burden of having it.    

Quitting makeou are the moving party and that hot potato of a burden to prove good cause .. isn't as easy as some wanted me to tell them it was.   Here's some questions, answers, and resources for quitting a job.

You've been Fired for Misconduct, or you're worried it's coming and you're not clear, if you're guilty, or not.

Maybe, you've been generously afforded a mysterious option to quit, or be fired and your employer might even be offering some money if you just go away quietly.  If you didn't have a choice, you were fired.

There are more reasons and questions, but the two above are the usual suspects when someone is denied unemployment benefits and when an employer appeals your benefits.

Everyday is a good day to work with purpose and if what drives me is the belief that one person denied unemployment benefits wrongly, indifferently, or erroneously, is one to many.

Which might be why I went overboard on the amount of questions and answers about unemployment benefits .. 

What sort of help are you looking for?

Did you know a pre-recession study by a NYC area advocacy group (UAC), found thirty percent of unrepresented claimants won their unemployment appeal hearing.   Good news, but the same study found that when represented, claimants won sixty percent of the time.  

Repaying  benefits, although a bitter pill on principle alone can be even more bitter when you weigh the cost of professional unemployment hearing representation that could of saved you and your case from appealing to a board of review just to get a second shot at representing yourself correctly.

Unemployment Benefits and Appeal Tips

Please take a moment to read the site disclaimer for  Nothing here is intended be,  nor will replace the real legal advice of an attorney.   

But I sincerely hope you'll find what's free here educational, informative and possibly eye opening.

Who Has The Burden to Prove Good Cause? 

The burden of proof is very important to consider while preparing your unemployment appeal case presentation.  

It is assigned and given to the party that moved to end the employment relationship and is relevant to the two questions people ask about unemployment most often.

Can you collecting unemployment when you quit?

Can you get unemployment if fired?

The first determination you will receive is called the monetary. It establishes when a claim is valid and the amount of benefits you will receive if found otherwise eligible. 

But, it is the second initial claim determination - the non-monetary that tells you if you are otherwise eligible based upon the available information related to the cause for separation after a claim adjudicator calls to learn how to resolve differences in what they are being told by the employer (called first if a discharge) and you (called first if you quit), so they can issue a determination based upon what they learned .. which might not be enough as far as you're concerned.

The way forward if denied is to appeal, or get over it, should you disagree.

Unemployment Questions

It's very possible I went overboard answering questions for the Unemployment Appeal Blog over the last seven and half years

Unemployment Q&As

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