District of Columbia Unemployment Appeal
If you are not eligible to receive DC unemployment benefits, you will get a written decision in the mail from a claims examiner. This letter is called a Notice of Determination and it explains why your claim was denied. If you don’t agree with the eligibility determination, you can file an appeal with the Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH). Instructions for filing an appeal will be included with your determination letter.
Appeals are not just for unemployed workers. If your former employer does not agree with the decision made by DOES, they can also file an appeal and request a hearing with an administrative law judge.
How to file an unemployment appeal in Washington DC
Download a printable Unemployment Benefits Appeal Form.
To file a DC unemployment appeal, you have several options. You can submit your request by mail, fax, email, E-Filing Portal, or in person at the Office of Administrative Hearings.
How to file an appeal in person
You can file in person during regular business hours, which are Monday through Friday from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM, except for holidays.
D.C. Office of Administrative Hearings
441 Fourth Street NW, Suite 450 North
Washington, DC 20001
OAH is located at 441 Fourth Street, Northwest, in the One Judiciary Square building, also known as the Marion S. Barry, Jr. Building.
You can get there by taking the Red Line to the Judiciary Square Metro stop, or by taking the D6 Metro bus to the corner of Fourth and E Streets Northwest. If you drive, you’ll need to find a metered street parking space or pay for a parking garage, as OAH doesn’t provide free parking.
To find OAH, go to the front entrance of the building and go through the security checkpoint, where you’ll need to show a photo ID like a driver’s license. After passing security, go left to the elevators in the north lobby and take an elevator to the fourth floor. Once you get off the elevator, you’ll see the entrance to OAH. Let the staff at the front desk know that you want to file an appeal.
If you arrive during business hours but when OAH is closed to walk-in visits, you can still file papers using the gray drop box right outside the entrance, and step-by-step instructions are available on the table next to the double doors. You can also find commonly used forms and pens on the table.
How to file an appeal by mail
Mail forms and documents to this address:
D.C. Office of Administrative Hearings
441 Fourth Street NW, Suite 450 North
Washington, DC 20001
If you mail your appeal request to OAH, it will be considered officially filed on the day it arrives at OAH during regular business hours. This means that the date you send your request in the mail does not count as the official filing date, which can be important to know if you’re sending something close to the deadline. If you’re worried that mail might take too long, it’s a good idea to consider using another option to make sure OAH receives your request on time.
How to file an appeal by fax
Fax your appeal request to (202) 442-4789.
Your faxed paperwork must be complete and legible for OAH to accept them. If they are not, OAH will not consider them filed. OAH will try to contact you to let you know that your fax was unsuccessful. If you can either file hard copies or successfully resend the fax within three calendar days of the first attempt, then OAH will consider the papers filed on the date of your first attempt.
If you fax your papers during regular business hours, the date OAH receives your fax will be the official filing date. However, if you fax papers outside of business hours, OAH will consider them filed on the next business day. For example, if you fax papers at 6:00 pm on a Friday, OAH will consider them filed on the following Monday – or Tuesday if Monday is a holiday.
How to file an appeal by email
To file an appeal by email, send your request to [email protected]. No other email address will accept appeal forms.
You must attach your documents in PDF format and make sure they don’t exceed 40 pages. Include your case number (included in the denial notice) and a short description of the document in the subject line of the email.
The easiest way to send an email to OAH is to use the email form. Simply fill in the required information, attach your papers in PDF format, and click Submit. The information and attached papers will be sent automatically to [email protected].
If you send your email during regular business hours, the date recorded on the email in OAH’s filing inbox is considered the filing date. If your email is sent outside of business hours, OAH will consider your paper officially filed on the next day that OAH is open.
How to file an appeal using the E-Filing Portal
Another way to file an appeal in Washington DC is to use the E-Filing Portal. Create a Portal account to file requests and papers related to your appeal. This account will let you view everything in your case file.
Need help with the portal? Visit the Portal Instructions page for step-by-step instructions on how to create an account and submit your appeal documents.
Time limits for filing an appeal
If the Department of Employment Services (DOES) sent you the Determination by mail, you must file your hearing request within 15 calendar days from the date that it was mailed, which is shown on the first page of the Determination. Even if you receive it later, the date of the mailing is the starting point for counting the days.
If the envelope’s postmark date differs from the Determination’s date, you should keep the envelope and bring it to your hearing. If the deadline falls on a weekend or legal holiday, it is extended to the next business day.
Missing a deadline
If you miss the deadline, you must provide evidence and testimony to the judge demonstrating a good reason for filing late. You must prove that you filed your appeal on time. If you are the claimant appealing a decision, you should continue to file your weekly unemployment claim with DOES while waiting for the hearing at OAH.
Why was my claim denied?
There are many reasons why DOES might disqualify your benefit claim.
- You failed to file your weekly claim
- You refused a job offer for suitable work
- You committed unemployment fraud on your DC UI benefits application
- You quit your job without good cause
- You have a disability that prevents you from being able to work
- You did not complete the required work search requirements
- You received an incorrect benefit payment and failed to pay it back (you can estimate UI payments using the DC unemployment calculator)
- You were fired for misconduct
- You incorrectly reported wages in an attempt to increase your weekly benefit amount
Preparing for your hearing
Once you request a hearing, the Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) will send you a scheduling order that tells you when your hearing will occur. You will receive this order in the mail, or by email if you entered your email address on the Appeal Form and checked the box to allow OAH contact by email. You can also fill out and submit the Consent to Email Service form.
Evidence can be verbal testimony, documents, photographs, or other physical items. It’s a good idea to practice telling your side of the story, and have witnesses practice, too. If a witness won’t come to the hearing, you can ask the judge for a subpoena which requires them to come and testify. If someone has important documents about the case, but won’t give you copies, you can ask the judge for a subpoena to get the documents.
To introduce an exhibit, you or a witness will need to describe the item and may need to answer questions about it, so the judge can be satisfied that the item is relevant to the case and is reliable. After you or a witness describe an exhibit and answer any questions, you can then ask the judge to admit the exhibit into evidence.
What happens at the appeal hearing?
To find out how your appeal hearing will be held, check your scheduling information. Most hearings are done by phone using a program called Webex. You can visit the Webex Hearings page for more information on how to join by phone.
If you have a phone hearing but want a video or in-person hearing, you can fill out the Request for Video Conference or In-Person Hearing form to request a change. Or if you have an in-person hearing but want to join by phone, you can fill out a different form.
If you are scheduled for a telephone hearing, you can request a video hearing or an in-person hearing using the Request for Video Conference or In-Person Hearing form. Or, if you are scheduled for an in-person hearing and prefer a telephone hearing, you can fill out and submit the Request to Participate by Telephone form.
What is the appeals process?
At the hearing, there are three main parts:
- Opening statements
- Presentations of evidence
- Closing arguments
An opening statement proclaiming your eligibility for benefits can provide a helpful overview of your case but is not required. During the presentation of evidence, the side with the burden of proof usually goes first. You can give testimony and ask your own witnesses questions during this time. The other side can also ask you and your witnesses questions.
Both sides can give a closing argument to summarize their evidence and legal arguments.
Remember that everything you say and present is directed to the judge, not to the other party. It’s important to practice what you want to say as if you’re speaking directly to the judge.
If you disagree with the appeal decision
If you disagree with the judge’s decision, you can submit a reconsideration request, asking the judge to reconsider or grant relief of the order. If you remain dissatisfied, you can choose to file an appeal with the District Court of Appeals.
Claimant Advocacy Program
If you need legal aid during the appeal process, you can contact the Claimant Advocacy Program of the Metropolitan Washington Council for free legal representation by calling 202-974-8150.
You don’t need to have a lawyer at your hearing, but you can get free legal advice from the OAH Resource Center. This information is included in the Scheduling Order you receive when your hearing is scheduled.
If you can’t afford a lawyer, free legal advice is available for both employers and employees. It’s important to contact a lawyer for advice or an appointment as soon as possible before your hearing. If you wait until the last minute, a lawyer may not be able to represent you.
Employers can contact the Employer Advocacy Program (EAP) for representation, and claimants can contact the Claimant Advocacy Program (CAP) for representation. CAP requires claimants to call after the hearing is scheduled but no less than 5 days before the hearing.
If you ask, the OAH Resource Center may be able to refer you to a lawyer, but they can’t guarantee you will receive representation.