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

Last Verified: April 2017

The Virginia Employment Commission (VEC) may deny your claim for unemployment benefits in VA because you didn’t meet the wage and earning requirements or you were ineligible because of issues regarding your separation from work, among other causes. You have the right to appeal the VEC’s determinations to the Appeals Commission.

The appeal will be a fair and impartial administrative hearing before an Appeals Examiner. The hearings are mostly held over the telephone. However, you may be assigned, or you may request, an in-person hearing.

Filing an Unemployment Appeal in Virginiafile an unemployment benefit appeal in Virginia

You will receive a Notice of Deputy Determination informing you of the denial of benefits. The notice will include instructions on how to appeal the decision. You will have 30 calendar days from the mailing date of the notice in which to file the appeal.

You have four options to file your appeal:

You must file a written appeal. The appeal should include current contact information, your social security number and a brief statement that you wish to appeal a determination and the reason(s) why.

Mail to: Clerk of the Commission, P.O. Box 1358, Richmond, VA 23218-1358.

Fax number: c/o Clerk of the Commission, FLA (804) 786-8492.

To file in-person, visit the local VEC office where you filed your initial claim. Attorneys filing on behalf of a claimant may deliver an appeal via courier.

If you file after the 30 day period has elapsed, the appeals examiner may extend the filing period if you can show good cause as to why you are filing late. Generally, a “good cause” would be some circumstance beyond your control.

Preparing for the Appeal

The VEC will mail you a Notice of Appeal to indicate they received your request. Later, the VEC will send a Notice of Hearing when they set a date and time for the hearing. If the issue of your appeal concerns your separation from work, your former (base period) employer will receive a notice as well, and will retain the right to appear at the hearing.

If you notice a potential scheduling conflict, call the Clerk of Commission at (804) 786-3020 as soon as possible and ask to reschedule the hearing. You must show a good cause to reschedule a hearing. If you don’t receive a response, safely assume the hearing will proceed at the date and time on the original notice.

You will be able to present witness testimony and show evidence to help prove your case. Exercise these rights at your disposal.


You have the right to have someone represent you at the hearing. You may hire a lawyer or ask a friend. Your friend may not testify on your behalf if they are representing you before the appeals examiner.

Many represent themselves in these hearings. Hiring someone is not necessary. If you do hire a lawyer, note that the Commission must approve the lawyer’s fee and the person must be licensed to practice in Virginia.


You have the right to have a witness testify on your behalf. The witness should have first-hand knowledge regarding the issue to be litigated at the hearing.

If you want more than one witness, those witnesses should each have unique information to provide during the hearing. You won’t need three people to say the same thing.

It is your responsibility to make sure the witness is available for the hearing. Should some emergency arise and your witness cannot make it, you must call the Clerk of the Commission and request a postponement.


You have the right to present relevant evidence at your hearing. For telephone hearings, the examiner and the opposing party must have copies of your evidence in advance of the hearing. It is your responsibility to make the copies available to the opposing party. The commission will provide you with the necessary contact information.

You can present business documents or medical records as evidence. If you want a written statement from a person who may not be able to attend the hearing, you can get an affidavit, a sworn statement made in front of a notary public.

Audio and video evidence may present problems, especially for telephone hearings. Contact the Commission for instructions on such evidence.


If you have a reluctant witness, or if someone is withholding important evidence, you may ask the Commission to issue a subpoena. A subpoena is an order that will compel a witness to appear or to produce evidence.

The examiner may ask that you show:

  1. the testimony of the witness of the evidence contained in the documents would be relevant;
  2. the evidence you’re requesting would not be repetitive; and
  3.  it would serve your interests.

The Commission may deny a subpoena request if these criteria are not met. Feel free to note during the hearing that you wanted to present evidence that the Commission (or examiner) wouldn’t let you present.

You must include contact information for potential witnesses or the person holding the evidence you need. You may make the request by phone, but it is best to put such requests in writing.

Special Needs

If you need an interpreter, TTY services, assistance for persons with disabilities or other issues, the Commission will provide these services for you. You may not bring your own interpreter to the hearing.

Your Argument

Take time to create the argument you will present at the hearing using the witness testimony, evidence and your own recollection of events. Make a logical, fact-based argument to present at the hearing.

At the Hearing

You will receive instructions on how to participate. The appeals examiner will call you at the scheduled time, so be prepared. If you have an in-person hearing, arrive at least 15 minutes early with the items you wish to enter into the record as evidence and your witnesses.

Each party to the hearing will provide sworn testimony to the examiner.

Each party will be given the opportunity to present evidence, to subpoena and question witnesses, to review all documentation and exhibits offered into evidence and to make arguments on their behalf.

The appeals examiner will assist unrepresented parties in presenting their cases and testing the cases of the opposing parties. All parties, witnesses and representative parties are expected to be courteous and non-disruptive.

Each party will have the opportunity to make a closing statement.

The examiner will deliberate over the evidence and testimony presented during the hearing. Later, the examiner will issue a decision several days after the hearing has concluded. If you disagree with the examiner’s decision, you may appeal that decision. The decision will include instructions on how to file that appeal.


Read the FAQ on first-level appeals in Virginia

Email the DOL for questions on employment law at [email protected]