Unemployment benefits vary by state, but the process is similar in all states. An unemployed individual applies to the state unemployment commission for weekly benefits. The unemployment commission verifies the information by forwarding the claim to the last employer. The last employer can question the claim. State regulations determine if the person qualifies. The claimant may appeal a denied claim. The adjudication hearing or interview gives the applicant an opportunity to present his case for a contested claim or a denied claim. Adjudication is the legal process for settling the dispute.
An unemployed person must apply for unemployment benefits; claims are not automatic. Some states have an online application process. You may be able to complete the entire application online, or you may appear in person for completion of the process. States often require attendance at a general benefits education seminar so you know the rules and details of how to receive your benefits.
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Unemployment must arise through no fault of your own. Layoffs as a result of lack of work are not your fault. You must have approximately 18 months of employment prior to unemployment to qualify for benefits, and the unemployment office bases your benefit award calculation on prior employment income. You must complete the requirements of the state office, including signing that the information you provide is true. States can pursue perjury claims or require repayment of unemployment benefits if the claimant provides false information.
The unemployment office sends written notice to you if a previous employer contests your claim. The unemployment office has not granted or denied benefits at this point, but is on a fact-finding mission. You will receive a hearing date or adjudication interview date for review of your claim. You must attend this hearing conducted by a state adjudication officer or administrative law judge. Your previous employer will send a manager or similar employee to present the employer's case. You present your case, expressing your understanding of your dismissal from employment. You have an opportunity to relate the facts and evidence with paperwork supporting your claim that your unemployment is not your fault. The adjudication officer makes a determination on the non-monetary issues of your claim.
The appeal of unemployment benefits denial may also require an adjudication interview or hearing. If the state unemployment office denies benefits for insufficient work history, failure to look for work or similar reason, you may choose to accept the decision or appeal. Unlike a claim contested by the employer, you must initiate the appeal of the denial of the claim. Once you file an appeal, the unemployment office assigns the case to an administrative law judge or adjudication officer and sets a hearing or interview date. You appear on the scheduled date to defend your right to claim benefits. The judge makes a decision on the facts, granting or denying unemployment benefits. You can appeal from this ruling as well, but the appeal goes to an actual court outside the unemployment commission for a decision.