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Washington Unemployment Appeal

Washington Unemployment Benefits

If you are denied unemployment insurance benefits in Washington and you don’t agree with the decision, you have the right to contest or challenge it. To do this, you can file an appeal and attend a hearing before a judge at the Office of Administrative Hearings.

How to appeal Washington unemployment benefit denial

Every document the Washington Employment Security Department sends will include specific instructions on where to send your appeal request. It is important to carefully follow these instructions when submitting your appeal.

The easiest way to file an appeal is through your eServices account. Simply log in, choose the decision you wish to appeal, and follow the provided prompts.

Alternatively, you can fax or mail your unemployment appeal to the address listed on the document. Be sure to pay close attention to the correct address or fax number—sending your appeal to the wrong place could result in it not being filed on time.

When mailing or faxing your appeal, remember to include the following information:

  1. Your name and Social Security number.
  2. Your employer’s name, address, and phone number
  3. The decision you are appealing.
  4. The reason(s) you disagree with the decision.
  5. Your signature. Unsigned appeals will be returned.

Every document sent to you will include a crucial deadline. It is essential to pay attention to these deadlines. If you miss a deadline without having a valid reason, you might lose the opportunity to appeal the decision.

Washington State unemployment appeals hearings

The Office of Administrative Hearings is a separate state agency that handles unemployment appeals independently from the Employment Security Department.

Appeals hearing scheduling

The Office of Administrative Hearings will send you a letter in the mail with details about your hearing, including the date, time, and instructions to prepare for it. Be sure to keep your email and mailing address updated with both the UI claims center and Office of Administrative Hearings.

Unemployment appeal hearing process

Brief Adjudicative Proceeding

If the Office of Administrative Hearings determines that your case can be resolved without a hearing, they will send you a Notice of Brief Adjudicative Proceeding. This notice gives you the chance to provide more information.

The office will mail you the Notice of Brief Adjudicative Proceeding and an exhibit packet. It’s important to carefully read these documents, as they contain vital information, including the deadline for submitting evidence that the judge will review.

The judge will then assess your unemployment appeal and issue a written decision. The decision will be uploaded to the Office of Administrative Hearings Participant Portal, and a copy will be sent to you by mail.

During a Brief Adjudicative Proceeding, the judge will base their decision solely on the following:

  • The Employment Security Department’s Determination Letter
  • Your appeal of the Determination Letter
  • All documents used by the Employment Security Department to support their decision (exhibit packet)
  • Any additional evidence submitted by the Employment Security Department
  • Your completed Declaration Form and any evidence or sworn statements you provide
  • Any additional evidence requested by the judge in writing
  • Verbal testimony on the record if the judge deems it necessary

Administrative Hearings

Most hearings are conducted over the phone. If a claimant cannot attend the scheduled hearing, they must contact the office before the hearing date to request a new one. The telephone number to call will be provided in the hearing notice. Failure to attend the hearing may result in the appeal being dismissed, and the original decision will remain in effect.

During the unemployment hearing, your case will be heard by an administrative law judge who is impartial and will determine whether you qualify for benefits based on state law. All testimonies given during the hearing are given under oath. You have the right to question any witnesses present at the hearing, and present evidence or testimony to support your case. Your availability for work and your work search history will also be examined, so it is important to have your job search log nearby for reference.

Towards the end of the hearing, the involved parties will have the opportunity to present closing statements. A closing statement is your chance to explain to the judge the reasons why you believe you qualify for benefits. It is important to note that a closing statement is not an opportunity to provide additional testimony. Keep your closing statement concise and to the point.

How do I prepare for my unemployment hearing?

After your hearing has been scheduled, you will receive a Notice of Hearing and an information packet. It is important to read these documents thoroughly and have them with you during the hearing.

If you have additional documents that you want the judge and other parties to review, it is crucial to promptly send them to the judge and the listed parties mentioned in the Notice of Hearing. The Office of Administrative Hearings will not send these additional documents to the other parties on your behalf.

It is important not to delay in submitting your documents. Failure to follow these instructions may result in your documents not being considered during the proceedings.

Do I need a lawyer for my appeals hearing?

Many individuals who attend unemployment hearings choose to represent themselves. However, if you prefer, you have the option to be represented by someone else. This can be a friend or a family member. Additionally, you have the choice to hire a lawyer to represent you.

If you are unable to afford a lawyer, there are options available for free or low-cost representation that you can explore.

When do I find out the outcome of the hearing?

Once the hearing is concluded and all the evidence and testimonies have been considered, the Office of Administrative Hearings will issue an Initial Order. This order will be sent to the Employment Security Department electronically within five days of the hearing, and your unemployment claim will be updated accordingly once they receive it. Typically, the entire process is completed within one week after receiving the Initial Order.

If you appealed a denial of benefits and the appeal is decided in your favor, any weeks affected by the appeal will be paid out to you. However, if your appeal was denied, you will not receive unemployment compensation.

What if I can’t attend the hearing?

If you have good cause to change the hearing date, it may be possible to do so, but only if it is important. It is best to make your request as soon as possible, at least 24 hours before the scheduled hearing. You can contact the Office of Administrative Hearings using the contact information provided on your Notice of Hearing. Speak with a judge and explain why you need to change the hearing date. The judge will then decide whether to grant or deny your request.

If there are other conflicting events or appointments on the same day as the hearing, try to reschedule them before requesting a change in the hearing date. If the hearing date is successfully changed, the Office of Administrative Hearings will send a new Notice of Hearing to all parties involved, informing them of the new date and time. Be sure to keep all the documents mailed to you for the new hearing date.

It is important to remember that the hearing is your only opportunity to present your side of the story and share any relevant documents or evidence. If you requested the hearing but choose not to participate, your hearing request will be dismissed, and the decision made by the Employment Security Department will remain in effect. If you did not request the hearing and choose not to participate, the hearing may proceed without your presence.

Collecting Washington unemployment benefits during the appeals process

While you’re waiting for your unemployment hearing, it’s important to continue submitting your weekly claims and actively searching for suitable employment if you’re still unemployed. You will only receive payment for the weeks you have actually claimed.

If you received unemployment benefits but later your unemployment claim is denied, it is your responsibility to repay the benefits you received. This is called an overpayment. If you fail to repay the overpayment, you may face penalties and could be charged with unemployment fraud.

Further appeals

If you don’t agree with the Initial Order from the Office of Administrative Hearings, you have the option to file a written Petition for Review. To do this, you must send your petition to the Agency Records Center by mail, and make sure it is postmarked by the deadline stated in the Initial Order.

Mail your petition for review to:

Commissioner’s Review
PO Box 9555
Olympia, WA 98507-9555

It is important to note that all parties involved have the right to request another appeal if they disagree with the Initial Order.  The Initial Order will provide you with instructions on how to proceed with the appeal process.

Employer Rights

Your previous employer, any employer you worked for during the base period, or any employer you turned down a job offer from can challenge your eligibility for unemployment benefits.

If an employer appeals your request for benefits, you will need to go to a hearing to provide evidence and demonstrate that you meet the requirements for receiving benefits.

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