Applying for unemployment insurance benefits after separating from your job can be a necessity for your family. However, if your benefits are denied, you should know that there are options that can help you become approved. Follow the guidelines of the unemployment office in your state, and you may be able to convince an appeal officer to vacate the denial and start paying you the compensation that you deserve.
Unemployment insurance is a federal program administered by each state through the Department of Labor. It is funded almost entirely by taxes imposed on employers, calculated by the number of claims paid. It is meant to provide temporary financial relief for those who are separated from their employer without cause or misconduct. If you quit for no compelling reason, you most likely will not receive benefits. Also, if you were fired for insubordination or theft, for example, you probably won't qualify to be compensated. Each state has its own policy on unemployment benefit eligibility, so contact your local labor department office as soon as you no longer are employed.
If your unemployment application is denied, you are given instructions on how to appeal it. If you are approved, but your employer contests your eligibility, the company also may appeal to have your benefits denied. Your employer may fight your application to keep its unemployment insurance premiums down. Your appeal hearing is held in person or over the phone. You and your employer may provide evidence and witness testimony to support your positions. You must be prepared and bring all relevant documents, such as performance reports and correspondence, to prove to the hearing officer, or referee, that you are entitled to receive benefits.
If your hearing officer appeal is denied, you have the right to an administrative appeal with a state board or commission that will review your case. During this process, no new evidence is considered by the board. However, you can write, in detail, why the documents and witnesses at the first appeal hearing proved that you should receive benefits. Ask the commission to overturn the referee's decision. You will not have an opportunity to testify, so you must wait to receive the final labor department finding.
The state board or commission will return a decision about your appeal. Your case can be affirmed, reopened, modified or vacated. If the initial appeal is affirmed, the board agreed with the hearing officer's decision. The claim also may be sent back to the hearing officer to be reopened for consideration again. If the commission changes the finding, it is formally modified. However, if the initial decision is vacated, it is being overruled by the board and found in your favor so that you can begin to receive unemployment benefits.
- Department of Labor: State Unemployment Insurance Benefits
- Lawyers.com: Unemployment Compensation
- Agency for Workforce Innovation: Frequently Asked Questions
- US Legal: Vacate Law and Legal Definition
- Connecticut Department of Labor: Proceedings on Disputed Matters Pertaining to Unemployment Compensation Claims
- State of New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development: Frequently Asked Questions