Arkansas Appeals Process – What Happens When you’re Denied Benefits?
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If you are denied benefits, you may appeal the decision to the Arkansas Department of Labor Appeals Tribunal. You have twenty (20) calendar days from the date the Department mailed you the notice that you were denied benefits to file an appeal. The clock starts running from that date, not when you received it.
If you file after the 20-day period has passed, the Appeals Tribunal will hold a hearing on whether your appeal should be considered timely. You will have to show a good cause for missing the deadline. The standard for a “good cause” in Arkansas is that late filing was due to “circumstances beyond your control.”
If you show good cause for being late, the Appeals Tribunal will schedule a new hearing so that you may argue the merits of your appeal of the original denial of benefits. If your timeliness appeal fails, you will be denied benefits.
How to File an Appeal of a Denial of Unemployment Benefits in AR
You must file your appeal in writing. You may use a form or write a letter. The forms are available online or from any Workforce Services office.
You may file the appeal in person at a Workforce Services office. You may also fax or mail the appeal.
Mailing Address: Appeal Tribunal, P.O. Box 8013, Little Rock, AR 72203.
The Appeals Division will send you and your former employer notice of the date, time and place of the hearing. The notice will list the issues to be addressed in the hearing.
Preparing for the Unemployment Appeals Hearing in AR
The hearing will be in front of a Hearing Officer who will act as a judge. The Hearing Officer will take testimony, examine any evidence and apply the law to the facts as he or she decides them. Your former employer will have the opportunity to appear at the hearing as well, and present their side of the story.
You may have someone to represent you at the hearing, like an attorney or a union representative. This is not necessary, as you should be able to present your case yourself. The Hearing Officer understands that you are not an attorney and will conduct the hearing accordingly.
Here are some tips on how to prepare for the hearing.
- Make sure you have collected and read carefully all correspondence related to your dismissal and your application for unemployment benefits.
- If you plan to have a witness, make sure the witness has first-hand knowledge of the circumstances of your dismissal. Their testimony may not be given any weight by the Hearing Officer if they do not.
- If you have any evidence to present like time sheets or discipline notices, make sure to provide that information to the Appeals Tribunal as soon as possible. Workforce Services will provide you with specifics on how to present evidence. The process is called “entering exhibits into evidence.”
- The opposing party in your hearing and the Hearing Officer need a copy of your evidence. Don’t send originals, make sure you keep a copy.
- If you find out that there is some scheduling conflict that may prevent you from attending the hearing, notify the Appeals Tribunal as soon as possible. You must provide them with a good reason for rescheduling, such as a personal illness or a new job. When you notify Appeals of the problem, provide some alternate time and/or date. If the hearing is rescheduled, they will notify you.
Prepare what you plan to say. If you have seen lawyers on television, you know you will make an opening statement and a closing. Make them short and make sure they tell the Hearing Officer why the facts show you should receive benefits.
If you plan to present a witness, notify the Appeals Division as soon as possible. The Hearing Officer will decide whether it is necessary to issue a subpoena to require the witness’ attendance. Make sure you give the Hearing Officer sufficient time to issue subpoenas and time for the witness to receive notice.
What Happens in an Unemployment Appeals Hearing in AR
The Appeals Tribunal holds hearings either by telephone or in person at a Workforce Services office. No matter where it is held, you have to be on time and ready to go when your hearing is scheduled. If you are late, you may be considered to have failed to appear. This means you could lose your appeal.
If you miss the hearing completely, the Hearing Officer may decide you have failed to appear. You will lose the hearing on the merits.
At the beginning of the hearing, the Hearing Officer will discuss some preliminary issues, and then provide both parties with instructions. Then, the Hearing Officer will swear in both parties.
The Hearing Officer will ask questions first to whomever it was who filed the appeal. The Hearing Officer will use the questions to try to bring out the facts about what happened.
Some Hearing Officers will give you an opportunity to speak when their questions are finished before moving on to the next party.
Make sure you are respectful to the Hearing Officer when answering questions and when making any statements. Also, be respectful to the opposing party and avoid interrupting them.
The Hearing Officer will make a decision based on the testimony and evidence presented during the hearing. There will not be an opportunity to present testimony or evidence after the hearing is officially closed.
There are several possible outcomes after the hearing. The Hearing Officer may:
- Affirm the Department’s original decision to deny (or approve) benefits.
- Reverse the Department’s original decision
- Modify the Department’s decision
- Remand the matter at issue to the Department (send it back for further review)
The Hearing Officer will likely decide the outcome of the case on the same day. However, the Appeals Division will not notify you until later. You will receive notice by mail of the outcome.