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Benefit denials and appeals

If you disagree with a decision we’ve made about your unemployment benefits, you can appeal that decision.

The best way to do that is through eServices. After logging in, select your claim and navigate to the “Decision” status tab. Look for the decision you want to appeal and choose “Appeal.” We may ask you for additional information about your claim. 

What can I appeal?

Examples of decisions you can appeal include:

  • A final decision about your benefit;
  • 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.

We process appeals in the order they are received. 

You must appeal within 30 days of the date we sent your decision. If you don’t appeal within 30 days, you must explain why you are appealing late. If you can’t show a good cause for a late appeal, your case may be dismissed as untimely by the Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH). OAH is a separate agency from the Employment Security Department that is responsible for independently resolving administrative disputes.

If you file a timely appeal, collection efforts on any overpayments that resulted from this decision will be delayed pending the outcome of your hearing.

How do I appeal?

The best way to appeal is online. Log into your eService account, select the claim that has the denial on it, then select the Decision status tab, look for the decision you want to appeal, and choose Appeal.

You can also use our appeal request template (available in English and Spanish) or write a letter requesting an appeal. You can fax it to 800-301-1795 or mail it to:

Claims Center Appeals
P.O. Box 19018
Olympia, WA 98507-0018

Your request must include:

  • Your name;
  • Your Social Security number;
  • What decision you’re appealing (the reason you were denied or disqualified);
  • The date of the decision;
  • Why you disagree with the decision;
  • Records you think we should consider when making our decision;
  • Names of witnesses you would like to have present for your hearing;
  • If you need an interpreter, what language you use (this includes American Sign Language interpreters);
  • If your appeal is late, you need to explain why it is late; and
  • Your signature.

You cannot appeal over the phone or by e-mail.

Submitting records

Before including supporting documentation with your appeal, please:

  • Remove or redact any personally identifiable information that is not relevant to your appeal, including:
    • Bank account and medical record numbers — your own or someone else’s.
    • Addresses, birth dates and Social Security numbers of other people.  
    • Make sure your documents are not password protected or otherwise inaccessible.

    Employers may also appeal

    Your last employer, any base-year employer, or any employer you refused an offer of work from also has the right to appeal any written decision we send them about your unemployment benefits.

    What happens next?

    UI Insurance Appeals Process

    UI Appeals Process - Customer Service/Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH)

    ESD sends decision letter > Claimant or employer requests an appeal > ESD reviews and may change decision. If not, ESD sends appeal to OAH > Hearing or Brief Adjudicative Proceeding scheduled by OAH> Hearing or Brief Adjudicative Proceeding held by OAH > Initial Order made by judge > Initial Order sent in writing to all parties > Initial Order received by ESD > ESD processes order, updates in eServices (OAH order can be appealed. See order for instructions)

    First, we’ll review any new information you provide us in your appeal request.

    If we reverse or modify our original decision

    We may make a new decision on benefits for some or all of the weeks included in your appeal request. If we make a new decision, you’ll get a new determination letter and your appeal will be closed. If you or your employer still disagree with the decision, you will need to file a new appeal.

    If we can’t change the outcome of the decision

    We send your appeal to OAH. Once OAH receives it, they will let you know by email or postal mail. If your contact details change, please update OAH as well as ESD.

    Next, OAH will determine if your appeal is a good candidate for a Brief Adjudicative Proceeding (BAP) or if you will have a telephone hearing. OAH will assign an administrative law judge to hear your case.

    You can find additional information on the OAH Participant Portal at oah.wa.gov under Manage My Case.

    If OAH selects you for a BAP

    OAH will send you a Notice of Brief Adjudicative Proceeding. You will have the opportunity to submit more information. The judge will then decide your appeal without a hearing and issue a written decision. The decision will be uploaded to the OAH Participant Portal and a copy will be mailed to you.

    Review the BAP process on the OAH website.

    If OAH selects you for a telephone hearing

    If OAH determines that your appeal is not a good candidate for a BAP, the OAH will:

    • Schedule a telephone hearing.
    • Send you a “Notice of Hearing” with the date, time and instructions for the hearing. You will need to call in by phone.
    • Send copies of your file to all parties involved in your appeal. These parties include you, your witnesses and any interested employer(s).

    After you receive the Notice of Hearing, you can use the OAH Participant Portal to track the status of your appeal. 

    If you did not get a Notice of Hearing but believe OAH has received your appeal, contact the OAH Call Center at 800-366-0955.

    If you have additional information

    While your appeal is pending, you may still resolve the matter by working with ESD. We can make a redetermination up to 48 hours before your hearing. Due to a backlog of appeals, working with ESD might resolve your issue faster.

    If you need free legal help

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

    What to expect from your hearing

    The judge asks you to give testimony under oath. You can question witnesses and present evidence or testimony to support your case. Your availability for work and job search may be examined, so have your job-search logs ready for your hearing. 

    If you don’t attend the hearing, the judge may rule against you.

    What happens after the hearing

    Based on the evidence and testimony from the hearing, OAH issues an Initial Order. It is sent to us electronically within five days of the hearing, and your claim is updated after we receive the Initial Order. The process is typically completed within one week after we receive the Initial Order.

    If the Initial Order goes in your favor

    If you appealed a denial of benefits, any weeks affected by the appeal in your favor will be paid out to you.

    If your benefits were denied for multiple reasons affecting the same weeks, you won’t be paid for those weeks. It would be necessary for you to appeal all denials for those same weeks. 

    If an overpayment was originally created for the weeks you were paid benefits and the Initial Order is in your favor, the overpayment will be resolved.

    All interested parties have the right to request another appeal if they disagree with the Initial Order. The Initial Order includes appeal instructions.

    If the Initial Order goes against you

    You can file a Petition for Review with the Commissioner of the Employment Security Department. The instructions for filing the Petition for Review are included in the Initial Order.

    Appeals FAQ

    Q: Can I file one appeal for all negative determination letters? 

    A: If you file your appeal in eServices, you can’t do this. You must select each determination you want to appeal and provide any new information you want us to consider. If you send us your appeal by fax or mail, you should list all the determinations you want to appeal by their letter ID and include any new information for each determination, so we can review each one.

    Q: What is a redetermination?

    A: A redetermination occurs when we use new information to change our original decision. We review every appeal request for redetermination before we send it to OAH to be scheduled for a hearing. Based on the new information you provide with your appeal, we may change our decision to deny your claim.

    Q: Can I request a redetermination in addition to filing an appeal? 

    A: You do not need to do this. You only need to appeal. We review your appeal for a possible redetermination before we send it to OAH for a hearing. If we are unable to change our decision about your benefits, we’ll send your appeal to OAH for a hearing.

    Q: Should I continue submitting my weekly claim while you are considering my appeal for a redetermination?

    A: Yes, you should continue to submit weekly claims for each week you want to receive benefits. If the appeal is decided in your favor, you’ll be paid for the weeks you claimed and are eligible for. You won’t be paid for weeks you did not claim. If your employer appeals your right to benefits and the appeal is decided against you, you’ll have to repay any benefits you received.

    Q: Is every appeal considered for a redetermination?

    A: Yes. If you provide new information, we will consider it for redetermination before we send it to OAH for a hearing.

    Q: What kind of new information is used to make a redetermination?

    A: We’ll consider any new information you provide that is relevant to the determination you are appealing. This may include ID verification documents or wage information that you may have not provided prior to our decision.

    Q: Do I get an opportunity to be interviewed or provide new documents?

    A: When you appeal, you should provide us with any new information or documents that may change the outcome of our determination. We may contact you for additional information. At the hearing, the judge will ask you to give testimony under oath.

    Q: When an appeal request is redetermined, are benefits allowed?

    A: It depends on the issue being redetermined and the new information provided. If you are appealing multiple determinations and we can’t redetermine all of them, we will send the appeal request to OAH.