Benefit denials and appeals
If you disagree with a decision we’ve made about your unemployment benefits, you can appeal that decision. We may ask you for additional information about your claim.
Examples of decisions you can appeal include:
- 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.
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 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.
How do I appeal?
The best way to appeal is online. Log into your eService account, select the Decision status tab, look for the decision you want to appeal, and choose Appeal.
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/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.
Remember, your last employer or any base-year employer also has the right to appeal any written decision we send them about your unemployment benefits, if the decision affects them negatively.
What happens next?
First, we’ll review any new information you provide us in your appeal request. Based on that information, we may make a redetermination that reverses or modifies our original decision. We may redetermine benefits for some, but not all, of the weeks included in your appeal request. If we make a redetermination, you’ll get a new determination letter and your appeal will be closed.
If we can’t change the outcome of the decision being appealed, we send the appeal to OAH. OAH assigns an administrative law judge to hear your case, schedules a telephone hearing, and sends you a letter with the date and time of the hearing. OAH also sends copies of your file to all parties involved in your appeal. This includes you, your witnesses and any interested employer(s).
Once you have received your paperwork from OAH, you can check the status of your hearing at oah.wa.gov under Manage My Case.
Free legal help is available. See the resource list at the end of this section.
At the 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.
Based on the evidence and testimony from the hearing, OAH issues an Order. The Order is sent to us electronically within five days of the hearing. Your claim is updated after we receive the Order. The process is typically completed within one week after we receive the Order.
If your benefits were denied for multiple reasons affecting the same weeks, you won’t be paid for those weeks. Payments will not be sent for weeks that have already been paid. Instead, if an overpayment was originally created for the weeks you were paid benefits and the 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 judge’s determination. The judge’s determination letter includes appeal instructions.
Free legal help is available
You may 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 online at www.unemploymentlawproject.org
- CLEAR (part of the Northwest Justice Project) – call toll-free 888-201-1014 or online at www.nwjustice.org/get-legal-help
- Your local county bar association may be able to assist.
Petition for Commissioner's Review
If a hearing decision 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 hearing decision.
Questions & Answers about appeals and redeterminations
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: 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: 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 us with your appeal, we may change our decision to deny your claim.
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.
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. At the hearing, the judge will ask you to give testimony under oath.
Q: When an appeal request is redetermined, are benefits allowed?
A: If you are appealing multiple determinations and we can’t redetermine all of them, we will send the entire appeal request to OAH.