Frequently Asked Questions About Unemployment Insurance Hearings

Before a Hearing

1. How do I file an appeal of a determination?

When you receive the determination from the department, it will indicate at the bottom the date by which an appeal must be received or postmarked in order to be considered timely.

An appeal must be in writing.

You may appeal online at http://dwd.wisconsin.gov/uibola/onlineappeal.htm.  You may also appeal in writing to the hearing office stating that you are appealing a determination.  The appeal must be mailed, hand-delivered or faxed to a hearing office.

CAUTION: The department may have issued more than one determination that is not favorable to you. Each determination has its own appeal deadline. Your appeal should be as specific as possible regarding the precise determination(s) you are appealing.

2. What is a late appeal?

If the deadline for appeal has passed, you will need to file a request for a late appeal.  You can file online.

The hearing office will schedule a hearing addressing your reasons for filing the appeal after the deadline.

The hearing office may schedule a provisional hearing at the same time on the merits of your appeal, but an appeal tribunal decision on the merits will be issued only if the administrative law judge finds that your appeal was late for a reason beyond your control.

3. When will my hearing be scheduled?

Your hearing will be scheduled as soon as possible after your appeal has been filed, generally within three weeks.

If a telephone hearing will be scheduled, you will receive documents in the form of a "Hearing Instruction and Document Packet". The documents contained in that packet may be used as exhibits at your hearing. Be sure to keep them in a safe place. You will need them at the time of the hearing.

If you file an appeal or receive notice of an appeal and know that you will definitely not be available on certain dates in the future, contact the hearing office immediately and let them know you have unavailability dates. If you call before the hearing is scheduled, the hearing office will attempt to accommodate you when scheduling the hearing.

Notify the hearing office of any changes of address and of the identity of any individual you might ask to represent you during the hearing.

4. The department's determination was in my favor – how do I know if the other party has appealed?
When a hearing is scheduled, the hearing office is required to mail notification of the hearing date, time and location no later than six days prior to the scheduled date. You should alert the hearing office to any possible problem with the scheduled date, time, representation, etc., immediately.
5. If I’ve been receiving benefits, and my former employer appeals, do the benefits stop?

The department’s determination allowing you benefits remains in effect while the hearing is pending and until the administrative law judge issues a written decision. You will continue to receive benefits during that period.

If the appeal is not withdrawn or dismissed, the administrative law judge’s decision will affirm (in whole or in part) the department’s determination, or reverse that determination (again, in whole or in part).

If the department’s determination is reversed, it is possible that there will also be a finding that benefits were overpaid to you in the period prior to the administrative law judge’s decision, which may have to be repaid to the department.

It is important that you keep filing for benefits in each week that you wish to be considered eligible for benefits.

6. Why am I not receiving payments?

The department may have issued more than one determination or decision in your case.

The determination or decision you are referring to could be favorable to you, but a determination or decision with respect to a different issue might be unfavorable and result in your being denied benefits.

7. Should I continue to file?

It is important to keep calling in your weekly claims for any week you wish to receive benefits. Do not stop filing just because you are waiting for a hearing or decision. If you are unable to complete a weekly claim, or have stopped filing for benefits but still wish to be considered eligible, contact a claims specialist.

8. Do I need to send anything in before the hearing?

The answer to this question depends on whether or not a telephone hearing is scheduled in your case.

If the hearing is to be held by telephone (even if only one party is appearing by phone, and the other party is to appear in person), you will be instructed to mail any documentary evidence you want the administrative law judge to consider (both to the hearing office and to the other party prior to the hearing).

If the hearing is in person for both parties, it is not generally necessary to send documents in beforehand. Two exceptions exist:

  • Drug test evidence should be submitted in advance on a certified report form provided by the department, to allow the opposing party an opportunity to analyze and respond to this report; and
  • Medical evidence, prepared by a treating health care practitioner on an employee's behalf, on Form UCB-474 provided by the department, should be received well before the hearing to allow for preparation of expert labor market analyst testimony based on the information the physician provides.

The UCB-474 form will also be sent to the employer for review prior to the hearing, to afford the employer the opportunity to subpoena the treating health care practitioner or to present rebuttal medical evidence on its own behalf.

9. What if I have special needs?
  • If you need an interpreter, the hearing office requires the use of its own official interpreters (sign or language) during the hearing. The hearing office provides the interpreter at no cost to the party. If you use or need an interpreter, contact the hearing office immediately to notify them of your need.
  • If you have other special needs, all hearing office sites are accessible to persons with physical disabilities. If you are required to appear in person and require disability accommodation(s), contact the hearing office immediately to notify them of your need(s).
  • Participants who are deaf, hard of hearing, or speech impaired and use a TTY (text telephone) or PC (personal computer) to communicate may dial 7-1-1 for Wisconsin Relay Service.
10. What can I do to prepare for my hearing?

You have the right to review your case file before the hearing, at the hearing office indicated on the hearing notice, and to request a copy of the material in the file. You should call the office in advance to arrange for this review.

Hearing office personnel cannot give you legal advice. Personnel can explain hearing procedures and the applicable law that will be used by the administrative law judge in arriving at the appeal tribunal decision, but personnel cannot advise you with respect to strategy and tactics.

You may want to write down questions you wish to ask the other party, and important points you wish to make on your own behalf (such as dates relevant events took place, or a checklist of documents you wish to present).

Remember, though, that you are making notes only to refresh your memory, and you may not be permitted to read them aloud as testimony.

Special Note for Tax Appeals: In an unemployment tax appeal case, you may contact the attorney representing the department and discuss the case.

Often, this attorney will have a good idea of what the issues are likely to be at the hearing and can give you information on what part of the unemployment law may be relevant to the case and what court decisions have construed that part of the law.

The department attorney also has the authority to settle cases and to limit issues, so discussion with that attorney may be advisable. Keep in mind though, that the attorney is representing the department.

11. Will I be able to participate by phone?

Both the respondent and appellant may request to participate by telephone.

The request should be made at the time of the appeal, if you are the appellant. If you are the respondent, the request should be made in writing and should be received or postmarked within five business days of the date on which the Confirmation of Appeal was mailed.

In general, if a party is located more than 40 miles from a hearing site location, the hearing will be scheduled by telephone. However, depending upon certain case complexities a telephone request may be denied.

If your circumstances change and you need to participate by telephone, but you had not requested a telephone hearing prior to receiving a hearing notice directing you to appear in person, you must contact the hearing office to determine whether your appearance can be changed to a telephone appearance.

Depending upon the type of case, the hearing location, the timing of the request, and your reason, your request may be denied.

12. Can I appear in person?

You may be notified that you are scheduled to appear by telephone rather than in person. If you prefer to appear in person, you should contact the hearing office at least two days before the hearing date to make sure the hearing office has facilities for your in-person appearance. If such facilities are available, you will be able to participate in person.

Cautionary note: if the other party is scheduled by telephone, you will be expected to send them any documentary evidence that you offer as exhibits so that they have copies of that evidence at the time of the hearing.

13. I'll be traveling, can I call in for the hearing?

No. For telephone hearings, the administrative law judge must call you. You need to provide a number before the scheduled hearing start time and need to be able to be reached at that number.

Also, take into account any time zone changes.

14. Can I get a postponement?

Once a hearing has been scheduled, parties are expected to make the necessary arrangements to attend, including taking time off from work, management duties, school, vacation, doctor’s appointments, etc.

Postponements are only granted for exceptional circumstances, and must be requested as soon as possible.

15. What if I decide to withdraw my request for a hearing?

The appellant may withdraw the request for a hearing at any time before a decision on the merits is issued.

After receipt of a request, no hearing will be conducted. The determination (the last decision made by the department) remains in effect and becomes final, without any further appeal rights.

The withdrawal request may be made in writing, by fax, by telephone call to the hearing office, or on the record during a scheduled hearing. The withdrawal request should include the hearing number.

16. Is there something I should do if I am participating by phone and have a witness?

Yes. If you are participating by telephone and will be having a witness at your location, you need to make arrangements to have either a speaker phone or a separate telephone for that individual. This is necessary in order for you to hear the questions that your witness is being asked by the administrative law judge and the other party.

If your witness will be at a different location, you need to contact the hearing office prior to the hearing and provide it with that witness's telephone number so that a telephone conference call can be arranged.

17. How do I get a witness to appear or documentation that is not mine to the hearing?

You may ask someone with firsthand knowledge to appear as a witness at your hearing.  If a witness is not willing to appear, you may request a subpoena for that witness.

Only the administrative law judge or a party’s attorney of record (has submitted a letter of retainer) may issue a subpoena. Subpoenas may be issued for documents not in your custody or control.

If you have retained an attorney, contact him or her about subpoenaing witnesses. Your attorney is expected to send the hearing office copies of any subpoenas issued for a hearing.

If you do not have an attorney but wish to have a witness subpoenaed, contact the hearing office responsible for scheduling the hearing. When you ask for a subpoena, have the following information available:

  1. Name and address of the individual to be subpoenaed.
  2. If documents are needed, a detailed description of the documents and the name and address of the custodian of records (the person who has firsthand knowledge of those documents) you wish to have subpoenaed.
  3. Why that witness or record is necessary and material to your case.

At that point, the hearing office will decide whether to grant your subpoena request.

  • If your request is not granted: No subpoena will be issued but you have the right to ask the administrative law judge to reconsider your subpoena request at the time of the hearing.
  • If the request is granted: The hearing office will prepare the subpoena form for you to serve.

You will be responsible for the costs of service, if any, and are expected to tender the subpoena fee to the subpoenaed individual at time of service. The subpoena fee is a $16.00 fee, plus travel expenses of 20 cents per mile to and from the hearing location.

An instruction sheet will be provided with the subpoenas. At the time of the hearing, you may ask the administrative law judge for reimbursement of the subpoena fees, but remember, service fees are not reimbursable.

Factors the administrative law judge will consider in deciding whether to reimburse you are whether the testimony was relevant, material and not unduly repetitive based on the record of the hearing.

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