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How to Appeal a Denial of Unemployment Benefits in California

Our goal is to give you the most up-to-date and accurate information about your state’s unemployment rules. The date you see here reflects the most recent time we’ve verified this information with your state’s department.

If the California Employment Development Department (EDD) denies benefits, they will mail a Notice of Determination. This notice will inform you of your right to appeal to the Office of Appeals and advise on how to file one. The appeals process is a quasi-judicial one, and as such it is important to follow the correct procedure.

You have 20 days from the mailing date on the Notice to file your appeal. You must file in writing and include your name, social security number and the reason you are appealing the EDD’s decision.

You may use a form, Employment Development Department Appeal Form, to file. The notice will include the address where you should mail your appeal, as will the above noted form.

If you file a late appeal, you will have to show a good cause at the hearing why your appeal was late. If you fail to do so, your appeal may be dismissed.

Preparing for the Unemployment Appeals Hearing in CA

An Administrative Law Judge will hear your case. The hearing proceeds like a trial, but the hearing is less formal in nature. You will receive a Notice of Hearing from the Office of Appeals if your hearing goes forward. The notice will contain the date, time and place of the hearing (some hearings may be held by telephone). Your former employer will receive notice of the hearing and will have the right to appear and present testimony. The notice will contain important information and procedure you must follow, so it is in your interest to read it carefully.


You have the right to have someone represent you in the hearing. You don’t need an attorney. You may have a friend represent you. Many people represent themselves. California does not provide attorneys for you in these administrative law hearings.


You have the right to have witnesses testify on your behalf. Your witnesses should have first-hand knowledge of the events regarding your separation from work. If there is someone who has relevant testimony, but you believe they will be reluctant to appear, you may request the state issue either a Request to Appear or a subpoena. The subpoena compels the recipient to appear as a matter of law.

The ALJ will decide whether to issue a request or subpoena, either or neither. The ALJ has the discretion whether to allow your witness to testify.


You may present documents to support your position at the hearing. The ALJ may require that you “verify” the evidence you present if you did not create it or the document is not one regularly created in the course of business, like a time sheet or a reprimand. To verify evidence you didn’t create, the person who created the document will have to appear at the hearing. You may also present medical evidence.

The ALJ can help you get evidence a person or persons may not be willing to reproduce. Notify the Office of your problem, show the reason why you need the evidence. The ALJ will decide whether to issue a request to produce the evidence or issue a subpoena to produce the evidence. The ALJ may decide that the evidence is not necessary.

Bring several copies of any evidence you will present.

Other issues

If you need to reschedule the hearing, you will have to show the ALJ a good reason why. You will have to show a compelling reason.

You should arrive early for your hearing. If you are substantially late or miss the hearing completely, the ALJ may conduct the hearing without you. If you filed the appeal, the ALJ may dismiss your case. You would have to reopen the hearing and show good cause for your absence.

You can avoid problems by calling the Office if you know there will be a problem. You may ask to appear by telephone, by Written Declaration or statement. A Written Declaration or a statement is your written version of the facts and argument you wanted to present at the hearing. You must show a good cause as to why the ALJ should grant these requests.

If you need an interpreter or disability accommodations, the Office will provide them for you. However, you must make a timely request.

At the Hearing

The ALJ will take testimony from the parties under oath or affirmation. Both parties may present evidence and witnesses, and both parties will have the opportunity to ask the other party questions about their testimony. The ALJ may ask questions to help bring out relevant facts and to facilitate the process. Both parties will have an opportunity to make a closing statement.

The ALJ will make the decision based on the facts presented after applying the law to those facts. You will not learn the outcome until the Office mails the ALJ’s decision to you.

If you disagree with the decision, you have the right to appeal to the California Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board. The instructions will be included with the ALJ’s decision.