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Can I Collect Unemployment Benefits If ...Unemployed Through No Fault of My Own?

How do employees become unemployed through no fault of their own and then actually collect unemployment benefits, when no good cause is needed to end an at-will employment relationship?

  • They are fired for a reason other than work misconduct, or a reason the employer wasn't able to prove as misconduct connected to the work.
  • They quit a job with good cause and are able to prove the reason was the fault of the employer. 
  • Or, the most common reason they are discharged due to a lack of work (which by definition, means being laid off due to a lack of work). 

I hope the free information about collecting and keeping unemployment benefits helps you.  It's based on my own unique job experience.

When applying to collect unemployment benefits, it is literally the employee/claimant who is choosing to initiate an exception to the whole idea of employment at will.  That's basically what the unemployment insurance process is designed to do, albeit fault must also be assigned by the neutral State Unemployment Administrative Law Agency. 

Claimants and employers alike, can be surprised by the initial non-monetary separation determination when it tells both, which party was at fault and a basic reason why.   But initially, the gatekeeper's call is based only on the available information, as opposed to the standard of law used at a tribunal unemployment appeal hearing .. where the burden of proving fault .. takes a leap upwards to develop a full record of the facts surrounding the cause and the separation and decide based on a preponderance of the testimony, and evidence made available on the record.

So, knowing what you know about how you became unemployed, did you know that just twenty-seven percent of the total unemployed people in the U.S managed to collect unemployment benefits last year (2017)?

Question is .. did seventy-three percent of unemployed people across this country who applied for benefits, do so knowing they were at fault whether they quit, or got fired from their job?  I don't think so, but I do believe it's more than possible that approximately half of that 73 % didn't know what, or simply, how to prove, or rebut the the fault wasn't their own, to actually satisfy the standard of law used, after an unemployment appeal is filed.

I hope to encourage you, hopefully the employee in the matter, to think about how, or even if you can prove, or rebut facts, as they relate to how fault works per a state's law, as you explain your separation from work, to the person initially assigned to adjudicate your claim and determine fault,  to the unemployment appeal hearing officer, kept busy by appeals of initial determinations believed to be erroneous, which in my experience, was usually  none other than the employer. 

Ideally, I believe it is before applying for benefits, or even before becoming unemployed, you should have some idea of the order of the unemployment process and the issue affecting your claim .. because even a first time unemployed claimant is expected to know how to work within the system as well as how to connect facts that are relevant and with the capacity to meet, or rebut a burden of proof, correctly assigned first, to none other than the moving party that ended the at will employment relationship.

More About Proving, or Rebutting the Unemployment Burden of Proof Here.

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Unemployment Tips, Laws and  .. the Free Advice

Unemployment Tips  .. well there's a lot, and I mean a lot, of questions about how to collect unemployment benefits.  All appeared on the blog, at one time, or another beginning in 2008, since I thought it would be a good way to expose what I thought the flip side of any argument might be up to.   I know for a fact there are many employers who rely on companies, such as I once worked for who are experts in using unemployment laws and rules of procedure at hearings to deny benefits .. whether the fight against benefits, is for the right, or wrong reason, or just indifference if they believe the claimant won't know how to argue.

I am solely responsible for all of the free advice .. just in case you decide to appreciate a pro's services, or a free tip I may of offered over the last twelve years.

Before you dig in, please know I'm not a lawyer, therefore nothing is intended, or represented as being legal advice

However, I was a non-attorney employee, and I evaluated thousands of unemployment claims as a UI hearing coordinator. long before the idea of a website of my own, became a twinkle in my eye and I was laid off and decided to explain for the benefit of employees.

Is there a way for you to collect, or be denied unemployment benefits?  That is the question only the details and circumstances surrounding how and why you lost your job, can answer.  

I believe in the value of foresight, as it can inform us about how to avoid making quasi-legal mistakes of ignorance.  At minimum, I know it works better than playing this game with hindsight as your only teacher.

An initial non-monetary claim determination is based only on the available information and because of that word "available" an unemployment claim adjudicator can get the initial determination wrong (erroneous).    Therefore to preserve your right to fight and have a chance at changing the outcome to be favorable,  you must appeal any initial claim determination, just to get to a first level unemployment hearing .. aka the only FULL FACT FINDER claimants, or employers usually get to change the gatekeepers .. determination.

If at any point you think a Professional Unemployment Hearing Representative, or Preemptive Coaching might be  viable to help improve your situation .. be sure to ask me about my Unemployment Referral Service.

What's in a Burden of Proof?  A Valid Argument That Allows Someone the Possibility, to Keep, or Collect Unemployment Benefits .. After an Unemployment Appeal Hearing

So .. let me begin with what I begin to think about when I refer to a burden of proof.  What needs to be proven, or rebutted and is there a way forward to get the job done.

And on the same page where I link to the chartbooks, you may get luck and find the state controlling your unemployment claim has a precedent unemployment decision digest, or whatever else they might call the resources that disseminate how an unemployment agency has the privilege of writing regulations apply to whether you can collect, or be denied unemployment  benefits.  Maybe if all states told us how they interpret their own unemployment laws, aka Employment Security Acts, you know you're expected to argue quasi-legally, to an administrative law agency

Please note, the legal disclaimer

And for those wanting assistance, I can refer appeal cases to professional UI appeal representatives, for a number of State Lower Level Hearings and written arguments to an Unemployment Insurance Board of Review.

The Unemployment Benefits Blog - Asked and Answered

Over the years I answered thousands of Q&As about unemployment insurance benefits, basically because I attached a blog to

I still consider new question though when contacted, on the condition,  if I think the issue you raise could be useful for a new blog post.  I will of course, ask for your permission first, as well as strip all personally identifying information, save the name of the state in question.  If you appreciate my answer, great, I appreciate honest testimonials.   If you feel inclined, however, to call me an awful expletive .. in a comment to an answer you found among the thousands .. please move on because I finally reached an age when feeling guilty is counterproductive to my own best interest.

Looking for questions with discussion about proving a voluntary quit is with good cause, such as when proving fault as being attributable to the employer?

How about questions about being fired from a job, and it's your employer who has to prove your termination was for misconduct?

Orienting yourself to knowing who is assigned the burden to prove fault, is basic folks, at least if you want  to how unemployment benefits can work, or why they don't work out.

Unemployment Insurance Benefits Q&As

  1. I was sexually harassed and quit my job. Can I recieve unemployment?

    May 20, 18 02:42 PM

    I started working for a 3rd party marketing firm. I was the only female in an office of 7 people. My job requires traveling for about a week at a time

    Read More

  2. Too Far to Work?

    Mar 05, 18 02:58 PM

    I live in Youngstown, Ohio. In 2008, I worked for a company through November and was laid off when the local office was closed. I received unemployment

    Read More

Fired From a Job for a Reason Other Than Work Misconduct?

´╗┐Being fired and then having to fight to get unemployment benefits, can happen to any employee, even when I don't think you're guilty of misconduct.   

Yet being denied unemployment with the initial non-monetary claim determination is often enough of a deterrent that it stops people in their tracks and convinces them it's not worth a simple appeal letter to get a lower level tribunal hearing.

Lower level unemployment hearings are called FULL fact finder hearings for a reason.  The point of a hearing is to fully explore if there really was  Willful Work Misconduct when testimony and/or evidence is allowed to go beyond only the "available information" used to initially determine if you get benefits.

Once you know the definition of work misconduct, you may be ready for some Q&As About Being Fired for Misconduct .. or not.

To Quit a Job and Then Prove You Had Good Cause

Yes, people quit their job for reasons I know have potential of being found as good cause, but they are still denied unemployment benefits because they didn't pay enough attention to their own burden of proving fault as being reasonably, attributable to the employer.

Don't allow yourself to be misled by the employer when you quit.  They may think it's best for you to voluntarily quit before you can give any thought to how you will later meet unemployment insurance's burden of proof. 

If you detect a sigh of relief,  it may be that boss, or HR person knows you have nothing to help you meet the  of why you voluntary quit with good cause.

How about a ton of Q&As About Quitting a Job With, or Without Good Cause

Why You May Need to Win a Lower Level Unemployment Appeal Hearing

A lower level unemployment appeal hearing, doesn't sound as if it's the last opportunity to deny, or collect unemployment benefits .. but if you know the unemployment process .. because it's burnt into your brain from repeating it thousands of time, the first hearing is generally speaking, your last chance to get, or keep benefits .. because the second level, or higher appeal authority of an unemployment insurance board of review appeal, will by no means, ever be called the second chance appeal .. by me.

Wondering how to write an appeal letter to an initial claim level denial of benefits to get a tribunal (lower appeal hearing)? 

It easy, compared to writing a written argument, i.e. legal brief for an Unemployment Insurance Board of Review to review the record of the first hearing.

And yup, I've got Q&As about Unemployment Appeal Letters and Hearings too.

Don't Forget About the Conditional Unemployment Eligibility Rules

Conditional Unemployment Eligibility .. What's that?

Unemployment Insurance laws explain how you must maintain conditional eligibility to collect unemployment.  Regardless of fault surrounding a separation issue I often detected a conditional eligibility issue when someone asked about quitting, or being terminated, because no matter the type of issue on appeal, conditional eligibility problems can create an overpayment of benefits .. for even those who did lose their job through no fault of their own.

So .. what is suitable work (SW) for you?  Do you know when you can .. and may need to refuse an offer of work an employer thinks is suitable to you?  Well, a decision is made easier if you understand what criteria makes jobs that may be almost suitable .. still unsuitable enough for you to refuse ..  in the eyes of the unemployment department.

And then there's the conditional issue of not being able and available to work (A&A).   It's just one more condition an unemployed person must certify, under penalty of perjury, they are meeting each week, to collect.   A&A can be a problem for those separated due to health problems even if found not at fault for the cause of separation .. at least until they are able to provide medical documentation that releases them to go back to work, even if the work must meet with medical restrictions.

Being able and available to work can also become an issue for those going to school, or training while collecting benefits. 

You may find the  Q&As About Collecting and Going to School useful.

How Much Does Unemployment Pay?

I've saved the first step in the unemployment process for last .. because monetarily qualifying for unemployment benefits is based on math formulas, which isn't something I worked on .. but nonetheless, I was able to figure it out for myself .. and some others when they asked questions about monetary issues.

Unemployment Insurance Benefits are Connected to How Administrative Law Agencies Regulate Laws to Work

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