When the South Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce (DEW) denies your claim for unemployment benefits in SC, you may file an appeal to the Appeals Tribunal. The appeal will be a fair and impartial administrative hearing in front of a judge called a Hearing Officer. The hearings are usually held by telephone, but may be held at a SC Works Center office near you.
The DEW will mail a Notice of Determination when they deny benefits. You will have 10 calendar days from the mailing date of the notice (or any DEW communication you wish to appeal) in which to file your appeal.
How to File the Appeal
You may file an appeal using a form found at the DEW appeals web page. You may also file the appeal in writing. Either method must be mailed or faxed to the Appeals Tribunal.
S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce
P.O. Box 995
Columbia, SC 29202
Include your name, address and social security and telephone numbers. You must sign and date the form or letter. You may include a brief statement of the reason for your appeal.
Preparing for the Hearing
You will receive a Notice of Hearing informing you of the date and time (or place) of the hearing. It may take time to receive the notice. You must continue to certify your claim each week while you wait.
Check your notice for potential scheduling conflicts. You will have to request a schedule change if you have one; however, the Appeals Tribunal will only reschedule hearings if you can show a good cause to reschedule. A “good cause” is usually circumstances beyond your control. Make the request by calling the appeal tribunal at 803-737-2520.
If you will need special assistance, like a language interpreter or disability assistance, the Appeals Tribunal will provide them for you. You must make the request in advance of the hearing date.
You will be able to present testimony, witnesses and evidence to help make the argument as to why the Hearing Officer should reverse the DEW’s original determination.
You have the right to have someone represent you at the hearing. That representative can be a lawyer, a union rep or a friend. Many represent themselves at the hearing without issue.
The Appeals Tribunal will not get an attorney for you or help you find one, other than to offer telephone numbers to your local bar association or Legal Aid Services.
You have the right to have someone testify on your behalf. Their testimony should evince a first-hand knowledge of the issue at the hearing. Testimony regarding your character or retelling something they heard from another person may not be relevant to the hearing.
You have the right to present physical evidence at the hearing. The evidence should be relevant to the issue at the hearing. You can present medical documents or documents normally produced at your former workplace (like an attendance form).
The evidence must be presented to the Hearing Officer and the opposing party prior to the hearing if the hearing is by telephone. It is your responsibility to make a reasonable effort to ensure the opposing party has a copy. If the opposing party does not have an opportunity to review evidence, the Hearing Officer may not allow you to present it.
Audio or video evidence may present special problems for the hearing, especially telephone hearings. Contact the Appeals Tribunal if you plan to present such evidence.
If a witness is reluctant to appear, or if you are having a problem getting an important piece of evidence, you may ask the Chief Administrative Hearing Officer to issue a subpoena. This order will compel a witness to appear or to produce evidence.
Use an administrative form to make your request. You must have sufficient information on the witness for the Appeals Tribunal to deliver the subpoena. You will have to explain why the witness or evidence is important enough for a subpoena.
Collect your evidence and witness testimony. Combine them to produce a logical, fact-based argument as to why the Hearing Officer should reverse or modify the DEW determination.
At the Hearing
The Hearing Officer will call you at the telephone number you have provided when you file the appeal. Be ready at the scheduled time. If the hearing is in person, arrive at least 15 minutes early.
If you can’t make it, or will be significantly late, inform the Appeals Tribunal. If you miss the hearing and you filed the appeal, the Hearing Officer may dismiss your case.
The Hearing Officer will take sworn testimony from both parties. After instructions on the hearing procedures, the testimony begins. The Hearing Officer will decide which party goes first. Often, when the issue is whether you quit without good cause, you may go first. If the issue is whether you were fired for misconduct, the employer may go first. Sometimes, the person who filed the appeal goes first.
Both parties will provide testimony. Both parties will have the opportunity to ask the opposing party questions about their testimony after the testimony ends. The Hearing Officer may ask questions at any time during the hearing.
The procedures of these administrative hearings are less formal than a court case. However, you should behave as if you were in court. It is especially important not to attempt to speak when someone else is speaking in a telephone hearing.
Both parties will have the opportunity to provide a closing statement.
The Hearing Officer will deliberate after the hearing has completed and issue a decision by mail several days later. If you disagree with the decision, you will have the right to appeal the decision to the DEW’s Appellate Panel. The decision will contain instructions on how to file the appeal.