How To Win An Unemployment
Appeal  the First Time




How to win an unemployment appeal - It's an interesting question most employees who really could of won, don't think about until after they lose the first hearing.

So I really don't want to sugar coat some important basics, I think would be good to know, before you apply for benefits.

To my mind, there is nothing like evaluating any unemployment appeal case for merits to win and weaknesses to either guard against, or exploit, to ones own advantage.  And your ignorance can be an advantage.

Now, ask me where I learned this, because it sure wasn't when I decided to TRY to help claimants see how to win the first unemployment hearing.

First level unemployment hearings results when an appeal to an initial determination by the aggrieved party of it's findings exercises it's rights and files a letter stating their disagreement. My experience .. this was usually the employer.

If you really want to come out the winner after the first hearing, then do what employers do.

Look for the path of least resistance.  Ideally this means you must look to the laws, rules and regulations that control the payment of benefits to see that justified path.  

But even then, you may need to be aware of something called the rules of procedures for administrative law hearings to clearly see, you have rights to due process during that hearing.

And these are important why?

They explain your rights to how you are allowed to prove you lost your job through no fault of your own per the law, and regulations that control the payment of unemployment benefits.

This first appeal hearing is a quasi-legal administrative law proceeding.     If you believe definitions, administrative law is a jungle even lawyers have to learn how to hack their way through.

But in all states, when it comes to unemployment hearings, the claimant, and the  employer can show up unrepresented and still be expected to know how to hack their way to a victory, whether their first time, or with hundred under their belt for machete training.

Maybe, directives to the state UI agencies administering unemployment law  will help you see winning unemployment benefits and denying them .. is more than just showing up and telling stories.  

Handbook for Measuring Lower Authority UI Appeal Quality   It may read boring, but it's an eye opener to the impact on benefits, the first quasi-legal proceeding can have .. even if you only peruse the table of contents.  

On the rest of this page...

  • The difference between lower level unemployment appeals and appeals to a board of review
  • Or need a basic template to appeal a denial of unemployment benefits


Why Win the First Unemployment Appeal  Instead of Waiting for The Second Chance - An Appeal to a Board of Review?

Good question, because the answer is short (I know, not really my style, so it probably won't last).  

Answer:  Although an appeal to a board of review is still considered to be within the purview of the quasi administrative law agency, boards review the record of the first hearing.   And sometimes, even based upon the content of a written argument. (If it were legal they'd call this a legal brief.)

In the interest of clarity, there are no second chances after the first hearing to relitigate the facts, evidence and testimony entered into the record of the first hearing.  

A board of review is usually a panel of three people and it's construction is detailed in unemployment statutes.  A board is basically interested in quality assurance to oversee the proper conduction of a hearing at the lower level appeal authority.  For you, that means everything that happened since you decided to appeal all the way through the hearing where the hearing officer might of made a mistake, or a quasi-legal error that somehow also ignored any right to due process all parties have at the first hearing.

From my perspective, most unemployed people not familiar with how unemployment insurance benefits work, never perceive the vital difference in subject matter of an appeal, and that's why they rarely get a second chance to get a do-over down at the lower appeal authority .. often called a Tribunal, or commission hearing.



The First Unemployment Hearing with a Tribunal Or Commission 

What goes on at the first unemployment hearing?

A  lower level tribunal, or commission hearing, also referred to as the full fact finder, is really your last chance to get, or retain benefits.  

In a nutshell the first unemployment appeal hearing is  the last and your last chance to tell your story in a compelling way through testimony, witnesses, evidence and ... cross examinations.  It's also where you are expected to know how to actively protect your rights to due process via objections and requests placed on the record .. for use, if necessary at the next level of appeal, to the board of review which can decide to give you a second chance with another first hearing.

How many ways can I say it, let me count them.


PREPARE to win this first hearing.   And  don't wait to start preparing until you get a notice of hearing in the mail with the date, time, and mode (in person, or by phone).  

Evaluate your merits any weaknesses and through the lens of unemployment law and maybe even precedents that interpret the law.

Your benefits are riding on the outcome, whether you were the appellant, or your employer was.  

If the employer is fighting your unemployment benefits .. you have the additional threat of repaying every last penny of benefits you have received, until a hearing decision either affirms, or reverses the initial determination.

By now, I hope you're not surprised that it is the employer that knows how to use not only the lower level appeal to their advantage, but what you don't know about preparing for one of these hearings

Which brings me back to the very cause claimants think they can circle back to a second chance board appeal without ever knowing the purpose for that appeal.  In case you forgot, that means examining the record (the actual recording, or transcript of a first hearing) for mistakes, errors and defects that resulted in a bad hearing officer decision.


The Letter to Appeal a Denial of Unemployment Benefits

A letter to appeal a denial of benefits should not be the document that provides self disqualifying information for an employer, or the state, to explore.

In fact, it should be simple, simple, simple because all you need to do is signal your disagreement and request the only unemployment hearing you can reasonably expect to get.

There is absolutely no reason a claimant of benefits, disagreeing  with an initial determination of benefits, clueless as to how the appeal process works, should spill their guts before they get to the referee, or first level tribunal unemployment hearing.

An  appeal letter should say just enough to show your disagreement to gets a first level appeal hearing  scheduled. 

By the time the hearing dated rolls around,  you should be prepared and not need to request a continuance, or last minute postponement to get your case together.  However, if that's what you have to do, do not hesitate to request a postponement for a legitimate good cause reason .. to protect a right to due process.

If you want someone that knows how to prepare, present your case, or defend your benefits against an employer appeal - have them write your letter to appeal a denial.  

It will probably be shorter than my sample appeal letter.

More About The First Unemployment Appeal

The Suject of All Appeal Hearings

A Sample Letter to Appeal a Denial of Unemployment

Appeal Hearing  Q&As

Referrals to UI Hearing Representatives

Unemployment Tips Home