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North Carolina Appeals Process – What Happens When you’re Denied Benefits?

Last Verified: April 2017

If the North Carolina Department of Employment Security (DES) denies your claim for unemployment benefits in NC, you have the right to appeal the decision to the Appeals Section.The appeal will be a fair and impartial administrative hearing conducted by a judge called an Appeals Referee. During the hearing, you may present evidence and witnesses to help you argue your case.

Hearings are usually held over the telephone. However, if the situation warrants, the

How to File the Appeal

The DES will mail a Notice of Determination notifying you of the decision. Your notice will tell you how many days you have to file your appeal. The appeal must be in writing and mailed or faxed to the Appeals Section.

Appeals Section
Division of Employment Security
Post Office Box 25903
Raleigh, NC 27611-5903
Telephone No.: 919-707-1060
Fax No.: 919-733-1228
E-Mail Address: [email protected]

Your written appeal should include:

  • Your name and current contact info
  • The last four digits of your SSN
  • The determination you are appealing
  • Your former employer’s name (company name)
  • A brief statement of the reasons for your appeal

Sign and date your appeal letter!

Preparing for the Appeal

The Appeals Section will mail a Notice of Hearing when they schedule the hearing. If the issue of the appeal regards your separation from work, your employer will receive notice as well. The employer will have the right to appear and present testimony, as well as ask you questions about your testimony.

The Notice will inform you of the date and time (and place, if the hearing is in person), of the hearing, as well as any instructions you must follow.

If you notice a scheduling conflict, you must call the Section to request a reschedule. The Appeals Referee will decide whether to change the date or time. You must show a good cause to reschedule, such as an unavoidable emergency or pre-existing legal obligation. Starting a new job during the week of the hearing may be a good cause if the hearing is in-person.

If you need special assistance like a language translator or disability assistance, notify the Appeals Section. The section will provide such assistance for you.

You have certain rights you may exercise during the hearing. Preparing to use these rights will help your case.


You have the right to have someone represent you at the hearing. You may hire an attorney or ask a friend to represent you. If you do get a friend or co-worker, note that they may not testify as a witness.

Many people represent themselves without problem, so hiring a lawyer is not necessary. If you do hire a lawyer, note that attorneys must follow certain rules and notify the Appeals Section that they plan to represent you and at what cost.


You have the right to have witnesses testify on your behalf. The witnesses should have first-hand knowledge of the issues at the hearing. Character witnesses do not usually provide relevant or helpful testimony during the hearings.

It will be your responsibility to give witnesses the information they need to appear at the hearing and be on time. In North Carolina, you must provide witness contact information to the division in advance.


You have the right to present relevant evidence at the hearing. You may present documents produced in the normal course of business, like a time sheet, or medical documents. You may need to verify written statements of events. The person who created the document would have to appear at the hearing in that case.

You must provide copies of the evidence you plan to present to the Appeals Referee and the opposing party in advance of the hearing. If you do not, the referee may not allow you to present the evidence.

If you have audio or video evidence, it may present problems for the Appeals Referee if the hearing is by telephone. Contact the division for instructions.


There may be evidence you need to present that is being withheld by someone. You may want someone to testify who is reluctant to come forward. You may request that the Appeals Referee issue a subpoena to compel the production of evidence or appearance of a witness. You must make the request in writing to the division in advance of your hearing.

Combine your testimony, evidence and witness testimony into a logical and fact-based argument to present at the hearing.

At the Hearing

Be on time for the hearing. If you are going to be late, notify the referee as soon as possible. If you are going to be significantly late, the referee may have to reschedule. In that case, you should have a substantial and compelling reason for being late.

If you are too late without cause, or you don’t show up, you may miss your chance to present your case. If you filed the appeal, the referee will dismiss your case and the DES determination will stand. If you did not file the appeal, the hearing will proceed without you if the other party appears.

You may have to request to reopen your hearing, along with a showing of good cause regarding your failure to appear.

The referee will swear in all parties and then give instructions on the procedure. Both parties will have the opportunity to present their testimony. When one party has finished, the opposing party will have the opportunity to ask questions regarding the testimony just finished. The referee may ask questions of either party at any time during the hearing, and may do so to bring out facts or help the hearing go smoothly.

Both parties will have an opportunity to present a closing statement.

The referee will issue a decision several days after the hearing. If you disagree with the decision, you may appeal it to the Board of Review. The decision will contain instructions on filing this level appeal.


Read more about filing an appeal with the Appeals Section in this pamphlet.

You can read the DES FAQ on appeals at the DES website.

Find answers to general questions about administrative appeals, including the laws governing appeals at the Office of Administrative Hearings website.