Guide to Your Unemployment Appeal

Unemployment Insurance (UI) is a government program that enables residents who have become separated from their jobs to continue receiving some form of income. Unfortunately, some applicants are denied these benefits. 



There are a number of reasons that you would be denied including incorrectly filling out the application and not meeting eligibility criteria. However, you are entitled to appeal to your state’s Department of Labor (DOL) denial decision. This is true no matter which U.S. state you reside in, although specific procedures and instructions may differ. 

After applying for unemployment insurance benefits, you will receive your state workforce agency’s decision within several weeks. If you receive a notice of denial, you will have the opportunity to begin an appeal process. Depending on which state you live in, you may have 10 to 30 days to file. Continue reading below to learn about the appeals process in depth and which steps you must take to successfully file your appeal. 

Reasons You Were Denied Unemployment Benefits

Before you can receive any benefits from your state unemployment office, you must meet the eligibility requirements. Depending on your state, the requirements may vary. However, there are some basic guidelines that you must meet. 

First, you must have worked enough during what the U.S. Department of Labor refers to as the base period. Each state may have different specifications for this period, but most require that you worked and earned a wage for at least the last four out of five past calendar quarters prior to filing an unemployment claim.  

Additionally, you must have become separated from your job through no fault of your own. This means that quitting your job without a compelling reason or being fired for misconduct may disqualify you from receiving unemployment insurance. The following are acceptable reasons for filing for unemployment:

  • Company was restructured
  • Job loss due to company downsizing
  • Job was no longer needed by the company
  • Lack of work
  • Seasonal period of employment ended

You could be denied benefits for failing to meet any of the above requirements. Additionally, you may be denied because you provided inaccurate information such as a name misspelling or incorrect dates of employment. 

If you received a denial for unemployment compensation but believe that you do qualify for unemployment in your state, filing an appeal is your opportunity to provide accurate information and plead your case.  

How to File for an Unemployment Appeal Hearing 

You have a right to appeal to your state unemployment office’s decision once you receive your letter of denial. Within the contents of the letter, you will find the reason for your denial. Instructions for beginning your appeal will also be enclosed. Specific directions will depend on your state’s procedures and methods of appeal application. 

Each state allows applicants to submit an unemployment appeal claim within a certain amount of time. This time period can be between 10 and 30 days from the day that the letter was sent to you. Most states provide you with several methods of submitting your appeal request. The following are the most common submission methods:

  • By mail
  • In person
  • By fax
  • By email
  • Through an online portal system 

Before submitting your appeal, you will have to accurately fill it out. Each state has different forms and may ask for more or less information than another state. Most require that you fill out the basic information. For instance, you must include your full legal name. 

Moreover, you will likely need to provide other personal information such as your residential address and contact information. Oftentimes, appeals applicants are also asked to provide their Social Security Number (SSN) and/or their claimant number in addition to their reason for appealing. 

When to File for an Unemployment Hearing

After you receive your Letter of Determination and discover that you have been denied benefits, you will find instructions for submitting an appeals claim. Within the letter, you will find that you have a limited amount of time to file for an appeal. Thus, you should submit your appeal as soon as you find out that you were denied unemployment benefits.

Most states will not give you more than 30 days to submit your appeal request. However, some judges or appeals commissioners may permit an extension under certain circumstances. Otherwise, your appeal may be dismissed if you submit past the deadline. 

Learn About the Unemployment Appeal Hearing 

After submitting your request for an appeal, you will likely receive a response from your local unemployment agency within three to six weeks depending on the state that you live in. Some state unemployment office will only send you a notice to appeal seven to 10 days prior to your hearing date.

Your hearing can be conducted over the phone or in person. In-person hearings are typically held at Department of Labor offices or career resource centers. Whether you are granted a telephone or in-person hearing is dependent on several factors. Unemployment agency officials consider:

  • The distance that you live from a hearing site.
  • The estimated length of the hearing.
  • The number of witnesses and documents to review. 

During the hearing, whether it is in person or over the phone, you will go through a question and answer process. You and any witnesses will be under oath while undergoing the hearing. The hearing officer, or Administrative Law Judge, will present the facts of the case and accept testimony, documents and evidence. 

Find Out the Next Steps in the Unemployment Appeal Process

After hearing, you will have to wait for the Administrative Law Judge to make a decision. A decision will not be made the same day as the hearing. It is usually delivered by mail to the claimant’s home within one to two weeks. 

If the judge decided to accept your appeal, you will be granted unemployment benefits and can begin submitting weekly claims and seeking new employment. After being approved for UI benefits, you will be expected to continue meeting eligibility requirements while receiving your weekly or bi-weekly funding. Failure to meet the requirements can result in disqualification from the program or temporary stop of payments.

On the other hand, the hearing officer may deny you from receiving benefits. An explanation for this decision will be found within your denial letter. If you disagree with the Administrative Law Judge’s decision, you can further appeal. However, the next level of appeal is made to a higher authority. 

In some state, you must appeal to the Employment Appeal Board. In another state, this authority might be known as the Unemployment Insurance Commission. The exact name of the deciding body and the procedures to follow will be provided in your letter of denial.  

Just as with your initial appeal, you must make this request within a given period. Depending on the regulations of your state’s Department of Labor, you will have 15 to 30 days to file an appeal. It can usually be submitted in person, by mail or fax.