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

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.

You have the right to appeal any adverse decision the state makes against you. If you disagree with a decision, you have 30 days in which to file an appeal of that decision to the Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH). If your appeal is late, you will have to show the state a good cause to accept your appeal. If you cannot, the state will dismiss the case.

The OAH is not a part of the ESD. The ESD will forward your appeal to the OAH.

When you receive your letter of determination, it will include instructions on how to appeal the decision. It is important to note that you will be required to submit detailed information as to why you are appealing and you may be asked to complete a phone interview. The information you need to include:

  • The reason for the appeal
  • The date of the decision you are appealing
  • Your name and social security number
  • Current contact information
  • Any documents you think will help make your case
  • The names of any witnesses you will need to testify on your behalf
  • Any other accommodations you will need (language assistance, etc)

You must sign your letter.

You can submit your written appeal to:

Claims Center Appeals

P.O. Box 19018

Olympia, WA 98507

Or Fax: 800-301-1795

Preparing for the Appeal

The hearing is similar in some respects to a trial; however, the proceeding is much less formal. An administrative law judge will preside. Your former employer will receive notice of the hearing and has the right to appear and present a case. The OAH will hold the hearing over the telephone in a conference call. You will receive a Notice of Telephone Hearing that will include the date, time and the number you need to call.

Right to Representation

You have the right to have someone represent you at the hearing. Many claimants who appeal forgo this right and represent themselves. However, you can hire an attorney or have a friend represent you.


You have the right to have a witness testify on your behalf. Your witnesses should have first-hand knowledge of the events surrounding your separation from work. You have to make sure your witnesses have all the information they need to participate, including the telephone number to call if they will not be with you during the hearing.


You may present relevant  business documents, audio or video evidence during the hearing. You may also present medical documents signed by a medical professional. You must make sure that the opposing party and the judge have access to any documents you will present prior to the start of the hearing. If you don’t get them to the OAH in a timely manner, the judge may prevent you from presenting them at the hearing.


When you receive the notice, check for scheduling conflicts. You must notify the OAH of any unavoidable scheduling conflicts. The judge will decide whether to reschedule the hearing. The judge may accommodate conflicts like starting a new job or jury duty. You have up until 24 hours prior to the call time in which to reschedule. You must have an emergency need to reschedule after that time.

The Hearing

Call in to the hearing on time. If you are significantly late, the judge may hold the hearing without you or allow the ESD’s original decision to stand.

The judge will swear in both parties and give instructions on how the hearing will proceed. The judge will decide the order of testimony, and may base the order on the issue at trial. If the issue is a discharge, the employer may go first. If the issue is a quit, you may go first.

The proceedings will be much like a court trial from that point. Both parties will have a chance to present testimony and evidence. Both parties may question the other party about testimony when the judge allows it. The judge may ask questions at any time. At the end of the hearing, both parties may have an opportunity to make closing statements.

The judge will mail the decision some time after the hearing. If you disagree with the judge’s decision, you may appeal to the Commissioner’s Review Office.

Read about how to prepare for a hearing in this OAH document.


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