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Unemployment Adjudication and Fact Finding Mechanism

Updated : November 28th, 2022

Unemployment Adjudication

Are you wondering what unemployment adjudication means? You have landed on the right page. Here, we will define adjudication and guide you through other relevant aspects.

Adjudication Meaning

Unemployment adjudication is the legal process of settling the dispute between employee and employer. An unemployed individual applies for weekly unemployment insurance with the state. The state’s labor department begins the process by contacting the last employer to verify the reason for termination of employment. The previous employer can question the claim, and on its basis, the claim may get denied. The claimant may appeal a denied claim. The unemployment adjudication hearing or fact-finding interview allows the applicant to present his case for a contested or denied claim.

Once a valid claim is established, it is then reviewed to determine if you, or a former employer, have provided any information that could come in the way of unemployment payments.

If an issue arises, an adjudicator will review any information that has already been provided. If additional information is needed, they will contact you. An adjudicator may contact you by telephone, e-mail, or mail. If contacted, you must be prompt and sincere in responding at the earliest so that the adjudicator has all information in hand to help him decide.

An issue is a condition or circumstance that could result in the denial of benefits as required by the eligibility and disqualification provisions in the law of a particular state.

8 Duties of an Unemployment Adjudication Officer

  1. Gather Documentation
  2. Conduct Interviews
  3. Analyze Information
  4. Investigate Eligibility
  5. Interpret and Apply Law
  6. Communicate with employers
  7. Resource and Refer Applicants
  8. Maintain Confidentiality

If your unemployment claim has an eligibility issue, it will go through the adjudication (or investigation) process. An adjunction officer will be assigned to review all necessary evidence and make an eligibility determination based on unemployment law. They will review the original claim, gather new evidence, and conduct interviews to help them make their decision.

It’s important to note that an adjudication officer and an employment lawyer are two different positions. While an adjudication officer must be trained and licensed in the state they work in, they are not required to have a law degree. If an adjudication officer has a law degree, they can go on to become an administrative law judge. 

Unemployment Adjudication

Adjudication is a fact-finding process that determines whether or not you are eligible for unemployment compensation. An adjudication officer is the person who will review, investigate, and analyze your case to make a decision. Your claim may be contested by your former employer which puts your claim in the adjudication process. Filing an unemployment appeal will also put your claim in front of an adjudication officer for review.

There are many reasons why an unemployment insurance claim can be denied. Some common reasons are the type of separation from your last job, your ability or willingness to find work, or the amount of wages you earn from self-employment or freelance work. Each case may have unique situations that affect eligibility. You will be given the opportunity to explain your particular case to the adjudication officer along with submitting any new evidence that you have.

The adjudication officer considers facts presented by both the employer and the claimant, applying eligible standards and law to the case. Through gathering documents, interviews, and analysis, they will make a decision and notify both parties through a written report. Adjudication officers are not required to have a law degree but must be licensed in the state where they work.

You have the option to appeal any decision you are not satisfied with regarding your unemployment claim. The specific process to follow varies by state. Consult your state’s unemployment website to find out how to submit an appeal. Whether you are filing an appeal or an initial claim, you may want to consult an employment lawyer who can guide you through the process. Employment lawyers specialize in employment law and have the experience to help you understand the specific variables that apply to your case. They can help you put together a convincing claim, and avoid the appeal or adjudication process altogether.

There are eight primary duties of an unemployment adjudication officer that helps them to make a decision on a contested or denied unemployment claim. Some specific eligibility requirements may vary by state, but the general job responsibilities are the same.

Unemployment Adjudication Officer Duties:

1. Gather Documentation

To substantiate your eligibility for unemployment benefits, you’ll want to submit documents that back up your claim. If your case goes to adjudication, the adjudicator will gather those documents and more.

What types of documents will the adjudicator gather? Adjudicators will collect documents from your employer that record your attendance, wages earned, and performance or disciplinary files. They will also consider any workers’ compensation claims you may have submitted.

The adjudication officer will also collect documents from you, including any new evidence pertinent to your claim. You can also include a written statement on your behalf, although you will have the opportunity to speak directly to the adjudicator during the process.

2. Conduct Interviews

The adjudication officer conducts interviews with anyone with relevant information to help decide your case. The adjudicator speaks to employers to determine the reasons for your termination from the job, how long you were employed, and what performance or disciplinary issues existed.

Another purpose of the employer interview is to determine if the employer followed appropriate termination procedures or if there are any equal opportunity or discrimination concerns.

You’ll also be interviewed if you can give information that clarifies any issues that kept your unemployment claim from being approved. You can provide an account of your termination and explain any factors that would affect your eligibility for unemployment insurance benefits.

3. Analyze Information

Once the adjudication officer has gathered documents and conducted interviews, the next step is to analyze all the collected information. The adjudication officer has heard testimony from both sides. Now it’s time to put together a clear picture of the circumstances and examine it against the prescribed eligibility criteria.

Unemployment claims can be complex, so the adjudication officer must have extensive knowledge and experience in unemployment policy and law specific to their jurisdiction. They must also be able to remain impartial and judicious in their decision-making.

During this phase of the adjudication process, the adjudicator looks at the reasons why the claim was contested or denied in light of any new evidence and testimony to see if the right decision was made or if the claimant is legally eligible to receive unemployment compensation.

4. Investigate Eligibility

The main purpose of the adjudication officer is to determine if a claimant is entitled to unemployment benefits according to their specific unemployment conditions. To be sure funds are awarded to legitimate requests, the adjudication officer must investigate eligibility by reviewing all case documentation and interviewing anyone who has pertinent information to share. Conducting thorough investigations helps to protect against fraud and discrimination.

An investigation will also help to identify any errors made on the application or gather any missing information that caused the claim to be denied. During this phase, the adjudication officer will conduct a deeper review of the claim than conducted on initial claims. 

To successfully conduct investigations that lead to a sound unemployment claim decision, adjudication officers should be detail-oriented and organized. They should also have a deep working knowledge of unemployment law and state policies that govern eligibility.

5. Interpret and Apply Law

As the adjudication officer reviews evidence to decide on an unemployment claim, they must consult unemployment laws for their jurisdiction. The officer may also need to review previous decisions and local policies to be sure they are applying the same standards to the current claim that has been used to judge previous claims.

In addition to being well versed in eligibility requirements, an adjudication officer must have a working knowledge of employment law as a whole. They need to be able to identify actions in the workplace that are not in line with discrimination, disability, family medical, or labor relations laws that may have contributed to the employee’s separation. As you can see, the adjudication officer is not simply reviewing the case and making a decision that is fair in their opinion. They need to apply fundamental employment law principles while analyzing the circumstances surrounding the claim.

6. Communicate with Employers

Adjudicators bridge the gap between the claimant and their previous employer. They will interview both sides during their investigation. In addition to their investigative duties, they have a responsibility to keep the employer updated on the status of the claim.

Adjudicators can also advise employers on systemic issues that can adversely affect unemployment, such as discrimination, a hostile work environment, or inadequate training programs. Businesses with strong workforce development programs experience less employee turnover and avoid unnecessary unemployment claims.

7. Resource and Refer Applicants

A secondary function of the adjudication officer is to provide the claimant with unemployment resources from outside agencies that may be helpful. Even if it turns out that a claimant is not eligible for unemployment compensation, there are other federal and state programs that can provide assistance during their time of unemployment. An adjudication officer has knowledge of these programs.

Examples of available resources other than unemployment insurance are job placement centers, a legal aid justice center, temporary low-income assistance, or food insecurity programs. There are many programs available to help those who are temporarily out of work, but many people don’t know where to find them.  An adjudication officer can provide claimants with a summary of resources in their area that can help.

8. Maintain Confidentiality

As you can imagine, an adjudication officer has access to private information about the claimant that must be strictly safeguarded. Social Security numbers, medical information, and banking information must all be maintained in accordance with privacy policies. At no time will an adjudication officer share confidential information without consent or with someone not in the direct line of handling the claim.

The adjudication officer will physically protect all paper files to prevent them from being viewed or stolen. If digital files are used, they will treat them with the same security measures as physical paper records. There are fines associated with not complying with privacy laws, so adjudication officers must take this responsibility seriously.

Potential Reasons For Denial Of Benefits

An array of issues can potentially result in delay or denial of claims filed by the applicant. These issues are discussed in the following pointers:

  • You were terminated (fired), you quit, or you are on a suspension or leave of absence from your last employer or other recent employers.
  • You are a school employee or working to provide services for an educational institution while under the employment of a private employer holding a contract with a public or non-profit educational institution, and you are not working because you are between terms or on a vacation or holiday.
  • You are unable or unavailable to work or to accept work, or you are not looking for it, or you have failed to report the required contacts with prospective employers for work during a claim week.
  • You are currently attending school or training (subject to exceptions).
  • You are currently self-employed, seasonally employed, or working as a freelancer.
  • You are receiving payments of some kind from a recent employer that includes severance.
  • You refused a suitable job offer, or you rejected a referral.

The reason for separation from your last employer usually determines whether you are eligible to receive unemployment benefits. If you have not earned the minimum amount as prescribed by the state, there can be a roadblock that will stop you from qualifying. The adjudicator is required to investigate your separation(s) by finding out why you left the job(s) in case the claim is contested by either of the parties involved. The adjudicator must determine if you were separated from the employer(s) under conditions that might disqualify you from receiving unemployment compensation.

Upon the completion of the investigation, the adjudicator will issue a written determination(s) that is mailed to you and the employer(s). If there are multiple determinations, all must be favorable to receive benefits. For example, if you worked with three different employers and two determinations are favorable, and one is not, the entire claim will be denied, and payments will not be made until that disqualification has been satisfied.

Note: You will be contacted only if they need any other information apart from the information you provided when you filed your claim. Please note that the adjudication process can take two to six weeks from the time an issue is raised until a determination is made.

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