When you file an unemployment insurance claim, the unemployment agency or your employer can deny the claim if they believe your unemployment is your fault or you do not meet eligibility requirements. If this occurs and you believe you are rightfully owed unemployment benefits, you have the right to appeal the decision.

Each state has its own appeal process for unemployment claims. You should start the process as quickly as possible as states limit the appeal window from 10 to 30 days after your denial notice goes in the mail. Your notice may include instructions on how to appeal and in some cases an appeal form. You should contact your State Unemployment Agency for more information on how to appeal a claim in your state.

Generally, you are asked to present your appeal at a hearing. There you are given the chance to present evidence to back up your claim and prove you qualify for benefits. Your employer will also be given the chance to present evidence supporting their side.

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The type of evidence you present will vary based on the reason your claim was denied. For example, if there is a discrepancy in wages earned, you can present copies of your paystubs or proof of income deposits to prove your case. In a case of discrimination or mistreatment in the workplace, emails or journals may be used as evidence. 

In other, less "clear cut" situations, witness testimony may be used. This type of evidence is often presented when the reason for leaving your job is in dispute. For example, your employer may claim you voluntarily quit, but you only left because of ongoing harassment in the workplace. You can call witnesses to attest to the discrimination and corroborate your reason for leaving. Your employers will have the same option.

If you win the appeal, you will begin receiving benefits. Your employer has the right to take the appeal to a higher level, but you will be entitled to receive unemployment payments as long as a different ruling hasn’t been made. You may be required to present evidence at another hearing.

Some states have a second appeal level within your unemployment agency. If your unemployment agency does not offer a second level of appeal, you still have the right to a second appeal through the state’s court system. Your employer also has the right to re-appeal through the same systems.