How to Appeal an Unemployment Denial in Kansas

If your claim for unemployment has been denied, you have the right to file an appeal.

If you applied for unemployment benefits but the Kansas Department of Labor (DOL) denied your claim, you have the right to appeal. If you win your appeal, you can collect benefits retroactively from the date when your claim was incorrectly denied. Below we explain common reasons claims are denied, how and when to file your appeal, and what happens at the appeal hearing. (See  Collecting Unemployment Benefits  for information on unemployment generally.)

Why Was Your Claim Denied?

If the Kansas DOL denies your claim, it will mail you a written determination notice. The notice will explain why your claim was denied, which may include the following:

  • Insufficient earnings.  Like most states, Kansas requires you to meet a minimum earnings requirement during a 12-month time frame called the “base period.” (For current amounts, see  Collecting Unemployment Benefits in Kansas.)
  • Voluntary quit.  To qualify for unemployment benefits in Kansas, you must be out of work through no fault of your own. If you quit your job voluntarily, without good cause, you will not qualify for benefits. However, if you had a compelling personal or work-related reason for quitting, you may still be eligible. For example, if you quit because of workplace harassment or to escape domestic violence, you may still be eligible.
  • Discharge for misconduct.  You will be ineligible for benefits if you were fired for misconduct. If you were fired because you were simply not a good fit, made a good faith mistake, or lacked the skills necessary to do your job, you will likely still be eligible for benefits. However, you will be disqualified if you were fired for violating a duty you owed to your employer as a condition of employment. For example, if you were fired for repeated unexcused absences or showing up to work intoxicated, you likely will be disqualified.
  • Refusing  suitable work.  To continue receiving unemployment benefits, you must be actively looking for work. If you don’t look for a job, or you are offered a suitable job and turn it down, you will be disqualified.

Does it sound like the Kansas DOL made a mistake in denying your claim for benefits? If so, filing an appeal makes sense. For example, if you were laid off along with other employees for lack of work, but your claim was denied as a voluntary quit, your appeal should be successful. On the other hand, if you simply didn’t earn enough to qualify for benefits, there’s no point wasting your time on an appeal. (Learn more about all of the above eligibility requirements in  Collecting Unemployment Benefits in Kansas.)

The Appeal Process

If your claim for benefits is denied, you can file an appeal with the Office of Appeals of the Kansas DOL. You may file your appeal by mail or by fax. You have 16 days from the mailing date of the determination notice to file. (For more information on filing an appeal, check out the  UI Appeals page  at the website of the Kansas DOL.)

In your appeal, state that you are appealing the decision and explain why you think your claim should have been granted. For example, if the decision letter states that you were denied benefits because you didn’t meet the earning requirements, you might say: “My earnings from July through September were not included in the eligibility determination. If you count all of my compensation, I have met the earnings requirements.”

You must continue to file weekly claims for unemployment benefits, search for work, and keep records of your job hunt while your appeal is pending, just as if your claim had been granted. If you win your appeal, you will be entitled to retroactive benefits (benefits dating back to the date when your claim was denied). However, you can get these benefits only if you have continued to file weekly claims and look for work while your appeal was pending.

The Hearing

After filing your appeal, you will receive a written hearing notice explaining when the hearing will take place and how to submit documents and present witnesses. Your hearing will probably be held by phone. An appeal referee will preside at the hearing and decide your appeal. The Office of Appeals sets aside about 45 minutes for each hearing, although yours may be longer or shorter.

The appeal referee may question you, your employer, and any witnesses who testify at the hearing. The referee will also review documents and any other evidence at the hearing. Your employer can participate in the hearing and may be represented by an attorney. You can hire your own attorney as well.

Be ready for your hearing on time, with your documents and any witnesses you want to present. Make sure to answer all of the referee’s questions completely. You may question your employer’s witnesses, and your employer (or its representative) has the right to question you and your witnesses. Once all the evidence has been heard, you’ll have a chance to make a closing argument. Make sure you state all of the reasons why you believe you are entitled to benefits, referring to the evidence or testimony that supports your arguments.

The Decision

After the hearing, the appeal referee will issue a written decision in the mail. If you win your appeal, you should begin receiving benefits soon. If you lose your appeal, you have the right to appeal that decision to the Employment Security Board of Review. The decision will explain when and how to file this second appeal. If you don’t agree with the Board’s decision, you can appeal it to state court.

Next Steps

You may want to consider hiring an attorney to represent you. Your employer may have an attorney at the hearing. If so, having your own lawyer will help even the odds. An attorney can question witnesses, help you decide what evidence would best prove your case, and present legal arguments about why your claim should have been granted.

However, you’ll have to consider whether the cost of hiring an attorney is worth it, given what you stand to receive in benefits. An attorney should be willing to meet with you for a quick consultation to review your case, explain your chances of winning the appeal, and talk about fees. If you have a strong case and the fees are reasonable, it might make sense to hire a lawyer to represent you.  

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