Benefit denials and appeals

Free legal help is available

Here is helpful information from the Office of Administrative Hearings:  Most people who attend unemployment hearings represent themselves. If you wish, another person may represent you - this can even be a friend or a family member.

You may also hire a lawyer. If you cannot afford a lawyer, free or low cost representation may be available. Here are some resources:

  • Office of Civil Legal Aid (OCLA) - OCLA website
  • Unemployment Law Project – call toll-free 888-441-9178 or go online to
  • Washington State Bar Association – call toll-free 800-945-9722 or go online to
  • CLEAR (part of the Northwest Justice Project) – call toll-free 888-201-1014 or online at
  • Your local county bar association may be able to assist.


If you disagree with our decision:

Your right to appeal

You, your last employer or any base-year employer has the right to appeal any written decision we make about your unemployment benefits.

This includes:

  • A final decision about your benefit amount (your final Statement of Benefits, Wages and Hours);
  • A decision to deny or reduce your benefits;
  • A decision to disapprove your training application;
  • The reason for an overpayment;
  • The amount of the overpayment;
  • The finding that you were at fault in causing the overpayment; or
  • The denial of your request to waive repayment of the overpaid benefits.

You must file an appeal within 30 days of the date we sent your decision. If you do not file your appeal within 30 days, you must tell us why you are filing it late. Unless you can show good cause for filing late, your case may be dismissed as untimely.

The easiest way to appeal is online in eServices. Click on the Decision status tab.

You can also use our appeal template, (available in English and Spanish) or write an appeal request. You can either mail or fax it to the following address (unless your decision has a different address):

Claims Center Appeals
P.O. Box 19018
Olympia, WA 98507-0018
Fax: 800-301-1795

Your request must include:

  • Your name
  • Your Social Security number
  • What you are appealing (the reason you were denied/disqualified)
  • The date of the decision
  • Why you disagree with the decision
  • Any records that you think should be considered in making the decision
  • Any witnesses you would like to have present for your hearing
  • If you need an interpreter, which language you use (this includes American Sign Language interpreters)
  • If your appeal is late, explain why it is late, and
  • Your signature

We cannot accept an appeal over the phone or by e-mail.

Remember, your employer can also file an appeal on a decision that allows you benefits, if the employer is an interested party to the decision and the decision has a negative effect on the employer.



After you file your appeal:

What's next?

When we receive your request for an appeal, we will mail you information explaining your rights and responsibilities in the appeal process. We will send your appeal to the Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH), which is not part of Employment Security Department. OAH will assign an administrative law judge to hear your case, schedule the hearing, and send copies of your file to all parties involved in your appeal. This includes you, your witnesses and any interested employer(s). OAH will tell you the date and time of the hearing and whether it will be done by telephone or in person. Most hearings are held by telephone.

At the hearing, the judge will ask you to give testimony under oath. You also will have the right to question any witnesses and present evidence or testimony to show that our decision was wrong. Your availability for work and work search may be examined during the hearing. Have your job-search logs available for your hearing. If you do not attend the hearing, the judge may rule against you.

OAH has created a 32-minute instructional video to help employers and claimants prepare for an appeal hearing. The video includes a mock hearing.

For more information on filing an appeal, see the "How to file an appeal" brochure. For more guidance on preparing for an appeal hearing, please visit the Office of Administrative Hearings Unemployment Hearings page for complete information.

Continue to file your weekly claim

To protect your right to receive benefits, file your weekly claim as usual for each week you are unemployed. If the appeal is decided in your favor, you will not be paid for any week you did not claim as required. If your employer appeals your right to benefits and the appeal is decided against you, you must repay any benefits received.

Petition for Commissioner's Review

If a hearing decision goes against you, you can appeal by filing a Petition for Review with the Commissioner of the Employment Security Department. The instructions for filing the Petition for Review are included in the hearing decision.

Anyone can assist you at a hearing. This includes your attorney and free or low-cost legal aid. The person who represents you does not need to be an attorney.

If you need assistance with your appeal, you may wish to contact any of the following non-profit organizations. The links on this Web site are for your information only and do not constitute an endorsement of these organizations by our department.

Unemployment Law Project | Northwest Justice Project | Washington Law Help