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By May 4, 2020May 19th, 2020Blog,

As the COVID-19 pandemic has swept across the nation, the number of unemployment claims being filed is at an all-time high. It is important to understand each step in the claims process and how 501(c) Agencies Trust can assist your organization during these unprecedented times.

When a separated employee files for unemployment, they are commonly referred to as a claimant. At the state location where the claimant files, the state generates a claim form which is sent to all employers that he/she worked for, typically within the past 18 months.

501(c) Agencies Trust’s claims management partner, Equifax, reviews forms received by state agencies and then sends your organization a request for information. It is during this information gathering stage that details and/or documentation need to be provided regarding the claimant’s separation.

If you receive a claim regarding someone who has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important to respond that the claimant has experienced a lack of work or a reduction in hours due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Many states are relieving employers from benefits charges on affected employees.

After information is collected for the claim, the state will sometimes need additional information. If the claimant is saying they were discharged but the employer is saying the claimant quit, the state must try to determine who is providing the most accurate information.

The state may call us asking for that additional information, they may send a subsequent questionnaire, or both may occur. If despite your protest the state rules in favor of the claimant, we will contact you to discuss the next steps.

If an appeal is filed, approximately 4-6 weeks after the filing of the appeal, the state will schedule an unemployment hearing.

Most unemployment hearings are conducted over the phone, but some states do conduct hearings in person. An unemployment hearing is an opportunity for both parties to present evidence and testimony regarding the separation from employment. The Hearing Officer acts as a neutral party that takes all the evidence and testimony provided under advisement to make a decision based on the unemployment law in that state.

Once the decision has been made and written, it is mailed to the claimant and the employer. When an unfavorable hearing decision is received, your Hearings Consultant (or Hearing Representative if one was used) will contact you to discuss whether an appeal to the Board of Review might be warranted. Unlike the unfavorable initial determination, an unfavorable hearing decision can only be appealed for a specific reason.

The Board of Review is a small panel of individuals who will review the case in its entirety. The Board will look at all the documentation in the file and listen to a recording of the hearing. No new evidence is presented. The Board is looking to ensure that the presiding Hearing Officer fairly and uniformly applied the state’s unemployment law in the hearing decision. Each member of the panel will vote, and the majority will become the final decision.

All the steps in this process are on an administrative level, with the Board of Review being the last stage. If the party who receives the unfavorable Board decision disagrees with it, the case will have to be appealed in state court or a similar venue.

This information was provided by our friends at EWS.

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