How to Appeal Unemployment Compensation Denials

Note: All appeal hearings are currently being held over the phone due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Should I appeal my unemployment compensation denial?

To protect your right to benefits, always appeal and do it immediately. 

If you do not understand the decision or you are not sure whether you need to appeal, we strongly recommend you appeal immediately instead of waiting for clarification from the Department.  It may take a long time for you to get through to an Unemployment Compensation Representative on the phone, and it is possible that person will not have your full case file in front of them.  If you receive multiple decisions and at least one of those finds you ineligible, you must appeal it in order to receive benefits.  

If you miss an appeal deadline and you believe you have a good reason for missing the deadline, you can still appeal.  You will then have a Referee (similar to a judge) hearing to present your reasons for the late appeal.  If the Referee finds that you had good cause for the late appeal, then the Referee will consider your eligibility.  If the Referee finds that you do not have good cause, then the Referee will dismiss the appeal as untimely.  Go to the hearing prepared to discuss both why your appeal was late and your eligibility for benefits.

How to Appeal 

If you receive a Notice of Determination finding you ineligible for UC benefits and you disagree with the decision, you must file an appeal within 15 days of the decision’s mailing date.

Even if you are outside the 15 days, still appeal.  Many determinations are being mailed late, and given the pandemic, the government is being more lenient on appeals. We recommend keeping the envelope with the determination.

Appeal Online

  1. Go to the online appeal form
  2. Select the UC service center listed on your notice of determination.
  3. Fill out all the requested information.  You only need to provide a short description of why you disagree with the determination. 
  4. Click the SUBMIT button.
  5. You will receive an email confirmation. 

Appeal By Email

Send an email to UCAPPEALS@PA.GOV with the following information: 

  • Your full name and mailing address 
  • Your phone number 
  • The name, address and phone number of your employer (if applicable) 
  • The last four digits of your social security number (xxx-xx-1234) 

The mailing date of the determination that you are appealing A brief statement explaining why you disagree with the determination and believe you should be eligible 

You only need to send one email.  After you send the email to the address above, you will receive a confirmation email (check your spam folder as well).  If you do not receive this confirmation within an hour you should make sure that the email address was entered properly and try again. 

Appeal by Mail

The information necessary for sending your appeal by mail will be located on the back of most Notices of Determination issued by unemployment, including the name and address of the Unemployment Compensation Service Center that issued your decision.

When filing your appeal by mail, if possible, we recommend placing the envelope in a postal box outside a U.S. Post Office. Your appeal will be considered filed on the date it is postmarked -- if you are not sure how often mail is collected from your local box, it will be safer to use the one outside the Post Office. If there is no readable postmark, the appeal will be considered filed on the date the Service Center receives it, so send your appeal in as soon as possible.

Within a few weeks of filing your appeal, you will receive a copy of it back in the mail with some notations from the Service Center.  This means your appeal is being processed.

*Please note that during the COVID-19 pandemic PLA does NOT recommend filing your appeal by mail.

What happens after I appeal?

Referee Hearings

When you appeal a Notice of Determination, or if your employer appeals a Notice of Determination, you will be scheduled for a Referee Hearing.  The Referee hearing works like a mini-trial.  Both you and your employer will have an opportunity to testify and present evidence.  You should bring all relevant documentation (ex: termination letters, doctors notes, communications with supervisors) with you to the hearing.

We strongly advise that you seek legal representation for your hearing.  You have a much higher chance of winning when you attend the hearing with a representative.  You have a right to a representative in Unemployment Compensation Hearings.  If you have a hearing scheduled and would like representation or advice for the hearing, you can request a continuance of the hearing so that you can find legal representation.  You can email or fax a request for a continuance to the Referee office (fax number and email address should be on the Notice of Hearing you received).  You can call the phone number on your Notice of Hearing with questions.  The Referee office strongly prefers that you ask for a continuance more than 48 hours in advance – however, if you want a representative it is okay to ask for a continuance at any time, even during the hearing.

Referee Hearings during COVID-19

Referee hearings are being held by telephone during COVID-19, but your hearing of notice will confirm whether your hearing will be held in person or over the phone.

The Department’s web page about referee hearings during COVID-19 goes into more detail about the process.

Philadelphia Legal Assistance provides free representation at Referee Hearings for clients who meet our eligibility and merit guidelines.

For help, contact Philadelphia Legal Assistance, Monday-Thursday from 9:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. at 215-981-3800 or apply online.