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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  1. Linda V
    I applied for NJ unemployment back in May, 2020 and received my benefits every week. Now after more than a year I received a adjudication email from unemployment asking me questions regarding my unemployment. Why I’m I receiving this more than a year later? Could my employer object to me getting unemployment after more than a year has passed or is it something else?

    • Hi, Linda – you’ll actually need to reach out to someone with the New Jersey unemployment office for more detail about your specific case. Without seeing the details of the letter, it’s difficult to determine why you’re receiving it. There should be contact information included in your adjudication notice.

  2. I filled my appeal late ..and it was for whether if I was eligible for pua ..and now I have a appeal hearing for if I had good reason for missing my last appeal hearing.. so I check online Thur the pua website and seen my appeal determination letter that state that I’m eligible for the max benefits amount for pua
    So can I get some money for the weekly clams that I Filed .
    While still waiting for the appeal process

  3. I was fired through no fault of my own in the state of NJ. I was hired to help build an apparel startup. Hired for coming from a corporate background, I would make my professional suggestions on how to improve and develop product as that type of information was always welcomed but unfortunately not utilized. During my time, I’ve repeatedly tried to help the company to avoid costly mistakes in the future when it came to producing apparel, yet my boss preferred to always “wing it” change direction and never follow any type of calendared process. Fast forward and to no surprise to me there is an issue with production and I’m informed with vague information and so as a professional, I remind the owners (again) of the proper protocol that I’ve been suggesting and believing that they finally understood this now. But the understanding was an awakening that was too late (as it seems). Therefore a week later, I was fired as a cut in finances, With no severance, I ask for a confirmation on days worked in order to claim for unemployment due to the financial reduction but then am emailed that due to my decision making that the company lost thousands of dollars and that I didn’t perform my job. I continued to apply for my claim and was denied with allegations that in addition to losing thousands of dollars that I now stole candy (of all things) from the company under footage which is false, and that I watched movies on my phone which was also a false claim. The adjudication office has reached out to me to give me 2 days to reply against the ridiculous allegations and I have replied to all her points of accusations. I had also added more information which I regret now because I was a bit emotional because of the low blows that came my way. Nevertheless, the email had been sent and I am now waiting to see the next steps.
    My question is this. In the state of NJ, what are the next steps for determination?
    Will my former employer read my comments which will only add fuel to the fire (which is true on the additional emotional writing) and then create more lies?
    Have employers gotten away with denying claims by creating false claims?
    This is not what I had expected nor planned to rebuttal in an adjudication.
    I only wanted unemployment pay while I continue to look for work.

  4. I went on medical leave in 2016. I had 2 years of approved leave with pay and benefits. Over the past 2 years, I continued on medical. In May of 2018 my employer tried to terminate for refusing to follow the company doctor’s recommendation to return to work with restrictions in a non hazardous area. I was never informed of where to report or when to report for work. I didn’t even know of the attempted termination until I didn’t receive my bi-weekly payment. I filed a greviance to get my job, pay, and benefits back and was awarded a temporary re-instatement until I had a third party doctor exam. During all of this, I reached my 2 year limit on pay and benefits. Once the 3rd party medical exam was done, the doctor sided with me that there were health reasons for not restoring me to my previous position. But he also agreed with my employer’s company doctor offer of returning to work with restrictions in a non hazardous area. My employer informed me at that time they had no jobs available for me. Since I no longer receive pay or benefits I filed for unemployment. The state said that my employer objected to my request for umeployment on the grounds that I’m weeking fulltime for them and now it has been 6 weeks pending adjudication. I receive no pay no benefits and was told I don’t have a job from my employer. How can they hold up my unemployment pay?

    • Gil,

      Thank you for writing to us. The outcome of the adjudication depends on the paperwork/documents you submit supporting your stance. Please make sure to prepare well and argue confidently in your favor.

  5. I live in the state of Nevada and had filed for unemployment a few months back in June and was denied because of not earning enough funds in that quarter which show that I’m trying to open a claim on a previous claim considered double dipping. I was told that if I worked and made $1,200 then that would be enough to fulfill and be approved for unemployment claim for the new quarter. I did work a new job started the job as a project assistant for a plumbing company to which the hiring manager knew I had never worked in plumbing but had over 20 years in construction. All in all I worked really hard to understand the plumbing industry but I could never satisfy my supervisors expectations and the last week of me working she basically took ball work from me and kept saying she will handle it even though I would ask every hour or less if there is something that I could do, she kept denying me any work because she was frustrated that I couldn’t do the job is good as she did even though she’s been there for 30 years. I was receiving unemployment funds for the past 3 weeks and suddenly I have to wait till November 2nd for an adjudication meeting and my funds have been placed on hold until then. Can my claim be denied because I could not do the job she expected even though she hired me knowing my previous experience? What should I expect now?

    • Brooke,

      There is a thin line. It can go against your since expectations were not met or it can also be in your favor for unreasonable demands from your supervisor. If you think you have a strong case, make sure to argue well and present all supporting paperwork.

  6. The state of Oregon UI told my spouse every claim that isn’t due to lack of work now goes through adjudication! Is that true or are they just saying that because she ‘resigned en leiu of termination’ in her trial period? She worked for the state, and didn’t want to be unable to find employment in another department.

    • Yes, this is true, Oregon will adjudicate any “employment separation” that isn’t due to a lack of work. FYI they’ll also treat a resignation in lieu of termination as her being fired because if your wife’s employer told her “quit or you’ll be fired”, she didn’t really have much of a choice and she was going to lose her job either way.

    • Ambrose,

      I don’t know if this is true. How can you confirm? By calling the office again and asking for a different representative to speak to.

  7. I was terminated while on Workers Comp. The employer didn’t call me, I was notified a month after the fact by the insurance carrier for the employer! And get this,,,When I opened my UI case to start benefit payments, I notated in the questionnaire that I have a lifting restriction imposed by the Doctor but that I can still physically work and I’m currently available to work….and I was denied UI benefits.
    I’m appealing.

    • Will,

      I think you should be eligible to collect UI benefits under such circumstances. Please make sure to keep supporting documents handy to support your stance during the Appeal.

  8. I’m currently appealing an availability issue in Massachusetts. I was accepted to a local community college never enrolled and because at the time when I applied I stated I was accepted they denied me. I was laid off due to lack of work it was a temporary position on August 3, 2018. My previous employer I was with 2+years, however I did quit that job which I’m sure doesn’t help my claim, however I’ve submitted everything from my most recent employer including wages which redetermined me eligible. Now I’m appealing my availability… I’ve contacted the college to get verification letter stating I’m not enrolled nor have I ever been but due to their protocols they fought me tooth and nail to get this verification. Stating there’s nothing to send if I’ve never been so there. Last week they finally sent a certified seal enrollment letter that shows I am inactive and never enrolled or registered within that institution. I think it was to stop me from constantly contacting them. Will this help remove the availability disqualification? Also are availability cases easier to resolve?

    • Lily,

      To offer a straightforward answer to your question, if you lost the previous job due to involuntary reasons (no fault of yours), you should be eligible to collect.

      • UPDATE: I called the claims center to clarify the adjudicator’s decision they stated that it means I found eligible for the Late Appeal regarding my availability. The representative also stated that its very strange to be appealing a one party decision ( thus meaning appealing just myself.) Will I still have to continue with this hearing since my enrollment verification proves with a certified seal inactivity and no enrollment has ever been made? Are availability appeals easier to win since its not a wage or reason for termination I am appealing?

        • Lily,

          This seems like a complicated situation. I suggest you ring up the adjudicator and consult him/her on further steps.

      • So I just got my Late Appeal decision after sending in all necessary information as to why I was filing late pertaining to being offered a temporary job. The decision states DETERMINED.

        Not exactly sure what that implies. I’m assuming the worst though. Since no adjudicator ever called me. Can you please clarify?

        • Lily,

          I suggest you call the Claims Center to find out the status. It more or less means the “Determination” process is now complete.

    • Jeannette,

      That is correct. The authorities might have ruled in your favor and ruled out the need for an adjudication. Please call the office for clarification.

  9. After working at various jobs over the course of 24 years and never being fired,I finally was recently. The reason was arguing with a manager because she was unprofessional and baited me into a argument and I signed the statement she wrote against me before I left and now I wonder will the unemployment official side in my favor over me signing the statement..

    • Jason,

      If you’re able to prove your position preferably with supporting documents, you should be able to collect UI benefits.

  10. Can you be denied unemployment after being terminated for allegedly making a customers grocery bags too heavy. Customer made a complaint that I packed her bags too heavy. When I had only put 4-6 items in each bag. This occurred while I worked for Meijer.

    • That sounds like an awful reason to terminate employment. Please consider applying for UI benefits until you find employment. You may want to speak to the Unemployment Office in your state once before applying. Please call them.

  11. I moved to NC for a Job the employer begged for me to work for him. The job is 1 hour away. I got sick one day driving there and went to work and told the girl I was working with that I was sick and may need to go home so I call the the staffing lady and the own and told them I’m sick and I’m going home they said OK. Next day get a text saying I’m off for the next 2 think they could not find anyone to work with me see my tech went on vacation. When my tech came back from vacation they told her she will be working alone she sent me the text I was shocked because now it’s two weeks with out work I’m a fulltime worked get a w2 at the end of the year. I work the own stating what is going on why you not having me work I said I will have to file unemployment no response. Umployment told them I walked off the job when the all said I called them when I was leaving stating I was sick and they sent Umployment the call off work text they sent me its been 6 weeks and no amswer on my unemployment case help if you can

    • Lace,

      Unemployment Insurance benefits are extended to those who lose their job due to involuntary reasons. If you think this was the case, please consider filing until you find employment. Make sure to keep supporting documents handy in case of a dispute.

  12. I filed for unemployment in florida but then moved to Georgia, after I was unable to obtain a job in Florida. I was hired at amazon in Florida but have already moved to Georgia and receiving unemployment at the time. The unemployment is now adjudicating because it picked up that I was a new hire at Amazon but I Couldn’t work for Amazon seeing how I moved out of Florida before I was hired. It has now been eight weeks of claiming with a hold on my funds what will happen next?

    • Ernest,

      If you still remain unemployed, you should be able to continue claiming UI benefits. Since you’ve moved to Georgia, you can consider transferring your claim over to the new state.

  13. I worked a 3 yr contract with an employment firm. That contract ended unexpectantly and I filed unemployment. The employer called me with 2 jobs. one of the jobs was at the company that I just left and the company had a 6-month wait and I was unsure if I could return to the company. I expressed this to the employer and they said that they would check to see if I could return to the employer. I was trying to avoid rejection/embarrassment for myself and the employer. I was submitted for 2 jobs.

    The employer filed a protest saying I had refused work. I spoke with the adjudicator. (Who called me a day earlier than our call) It turns out two jobs that of the two jobs they said I had refused. they had submitted me for one and the other was the job aforementioned. the employer never got back in touch with me and I eventually applied for the job.

    The adjudicator told me that I would receive two letters in the mail in 5 -7 business days and told me to keep certifying.

    Any idea where this is landing. The employer did not tell the truth and I sent documented information to our phone call. The adjudicator said that they had cancellations and that was why he was calling a day early.

    Any ramifications for the employer not telling the truth.

    • It’s the time to make a strong case for yourself. Chase the adjudicator at regular intervals and submit the required documents in your support.

  14. I finally got the courage to do this as I now get Social Security but I doubt things have changed. Years ago when I was working I had a sales job and they did all sorts of sexist crap. They would not pay the spiffs to females. They called you names over the intercom. They would break things on products ordered and picked up by customers. People knew about it but would not come forth. When you saw something illegal going on that you were not supposed to see, you got fired. The employer lied about you to the DES and they even lied to future employers so that you never had respect once you worked at their place. The so called judges as your hearings admonished you for speaking out but there was nothing to be done unless others backed you up and they were afraid for their jobs. This still goes on. For the most part it is women judges doing the bidding of male employers. Some of these women should be asking themselves questions about the lives of others they were complicit in destroying. There never was any recourse for sexual harassment and discrimination and there still is not. Have any of these female judges ever thought to require further proofs from the employers. Has any judge ever compelled the employer to proof of sales or production exceeded by the women who have been fired? That would be the most telling. When other situations arise and the female employee has been with the company for more than five years, have any of these judges had the sense to ask if the person lasted with you that long and their last evaluation was superior enough to merit a raise, why do you all of a sudden doubt the employee? There is no common sense to these horrible women and they are there as judges because of their stupidity. The system is geared to protect only the rights of the employer so don’t be down on yourselves if you find yourself a victim because if the employer loses then you have a case! DES judges are paid to destroy people.

  15. Please contact me I’m going to be homeless loose vehicle they are holding my unemployment and I don’t know why I’ve been doing everything and more I’m a cancer patient and have to get to my therapy today I can’t go cause my trucks out of gas and no money

    • Jerome,

      Hope you get out of this situation soon. Please let us know how we can help you. This is a private forum and our help can be limited. If you’re referring to Unemployment Insurance, please call the Claims Center for further inquiry.

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