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

Last Verified: January 2017

You may appeal any determination made by the claims examiner. You can dispute the original monetary determination or whether you were eligible to receive benefits when denied.

  • File your appeal by mail, fax or online.
  • The appeal must be in writing. There is a form available, but it is not necessary to use it
  • Include your name, address, social security number (on all documents) and the decision you are appealing

Mail or fax to:

Appeals Tribunal, Department of Labor and Workforce Development,

220 French Landing Drive, Nashville, Tennessee 37243-1002.

Fax 615-741-8933

File your appeal online at You can check the status of your appeal at the site.

You have 15 calendar days from the date the TDLWD mailed the decision to file your appeal. If you file late, the Appeals Bureau will not have jurisdiction over your appeal and the original determination will stand.

You will have to file an appeal to show good cause for filing late. “Good cause” will be circumstances beyond your control (e.g. You gave your correct address but the Appeals Tribunal sent notice to the wrong house).

Preparing for your Appeals Hearing

The hearing is quasi-judicial in nature. It is not a formal trial; however, there are rules and an expectation that both parties will conduct themselves in a respectful manner. When you file your appeal, your employer will receive notice of the hearing (or the TDLWD examiner whose decision you are appealing). They will have the right to appear and present their side of the events.

An Appeals Hearing Officer will take testimony and evidence at the hearing. They will determine what are the relevant facts and apply the law to those facts to make a decision.

Hearings are held over the telephone. However, you may request an in-person hearing.

The Appeals Tribunal will send a Notice of Hearing, which includes the date and time (and place) of the hearing. You can also check for information on your hearing.

You have the right to present testimony, evidence and have witnesses present. You have the right to be represented at the hearing. You may hire an attorney or have a friend represent you. Your friend may not testify during the hearing, so don’t ask someone you hope to testify on your behalf.

It isn’t necessary to have a representative. While employers often do, most people are able to represent themselves. The Hearing Officer conducts the hearings keeping in mind that they parties are not always experienced in these situations.


If you plan to have a witness, notify the Appeals Tribunal as soon as possible. If you have a witness who may be reluctant to testify, you may request a subpoena. The Hearing Officer will determine whether to serve the witness with the subpoena. You may not appeal this decision; however, during your hearing, note that the Hearing Officer did not subpoena the witness.

Important: You must submit your request for a subpoena within no less than seven days of the hearing date. Make your request via fax at (615) 741-8933 or by email ([email protected]).

If your witness will not be sitting with you at the telephone hearing and you cannot conference them into the telephone call, the Appeals Tribunal can help. However, you must notify the Tribunal of this need at least 48 hours prior to the hearing.

Your witnesses should have first-hand knowledge about the issue addressed by the appeal. Character testimony is not usually relevant in these hearings.


You should prepare any relevant documents, photo, video or audio you need to make your case. The opposing party (your former employer) has the right to see any evidence. You must provide it to them via mail, fax or some other method. You must also provide it to the Hearing Officer. If the opposing party or the Hearing Officer does not have a copy of the evidence prior to the hearing, you may not be able to use it.

What Happens at the Hearing

Whether the hearing is in person or by telephone, you must be on time for the hearing. The Appeals Tribunal recommends arriving at least 15 minutes early for an in-person hearing. The Hearing Officer will give you a 15-minute grace period in which to arrive or call in. If you arrive after that time, the Hearing Officer will consider that you have failed to appear, which may result in a decision against you.

The Hearing Officer will begin the hearing by verifying some information and swearing in both parties. After brief instructions, the hearing will begin.

If the issue is a discharge (you were fired), the employer will go first. If the issue is whether you quit voluntarily, you will have the burden to show a good cause for quitting, so you will go first.

If the issue is whether you had good cause to file a late appeal, your employer will not usually appear at these hearings. However, the Hearing Officer will still hold a hearing and you will present testimony. If the employer or state employee is present, you will go first.

When the party who goes first finishes with their testimony, the opposing party will have the opportunity to ask questions about their testimony, evidence or witnesses. They may ask you any relevant questions. When the testifying party is finished, the other party will have the opportunity to present evidence. Both parties may have an opportunity to make a closing statement at the discretion of the Hearing Officer.

The Hearing Officer may ask questions of either party at any time during the hearing.

You may raise objections and make motions; however, this is not a judicial trial. It is an administrative hearing. The Hearing Officer will note your objections for the record, but is not likely to strike testimony.

The Hearing Officer will make a decision after the hearing is finished. The Appeals Tribunal will mail the decision to both parties.

If you disagree with the decision, you may file an appeal with the Office of Administrative Review. Instructions on how to do this will be included with the decision the Appeals Tribunal mails to you.


Find out how to file an appeal

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