Schedule a Consultation

What Happens if I Am Denied Unemployment Benefits?

Updated on
December 29, 2020
Article written by
Attorney Kevin O'Flaherty

In this article we will explain What Happens if I Am Denied Unemployment Benefits or My Employer Challenges My Unemployment Benefits Claim including:

  • Who is Eligible for Unemployment Benefits and How to Apply for Unemployment Benefits?
  • What Should I Do if I Was Denied Unemployment Benefits or the Benefit Is Too Low?
  • What Happens if I Was Awarded Benefits, but My Unemployment Claim is Being Contested?
  • Why is an Employer Allowed to Contest an Unemployment Claim?
  • Why Has My Employer Contested My Unemployment Claim?
  • Are Benefits Paid During the Contested Period?
  • Do I Need to Participate in the Contested Claim Process?
  • What Do I Need to Do for the Unemployment Benefits Appeal Process?
  • What Happens If My Benefits are Denied or Reduced After My Claim is Contested?
  • Can I Appeal an Unemployment Benefits Determination?
  • What is the Unemployment Benefits Appeal Process?
  • Can I Do the Appeal Process on My Own?

The process for filing an unemployment claim in the State of Illinois has provisions that allow for either an unemployed person or the former employer of that person to appeal any unemployment determination that is made by the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES). Either party may request a formal review of the facts that lead to the benefit determination.  

Who is Eligible for Unemployment Benefits and How to Apply for Unemployment Benefits?

The State of Illinois has established rules and regulations which determine who is eligible for unemployment benefits and how one can go about those benefits. We previously explored some of this issue in a previous article. If you are looking for information related to applying for benefits or eligibility, please see our other article: INSERT LINK.

This article is intended to cover what happens after one has applied for benefits and has run into some complications related to an unemployment claim.

What Should I Do if I Was Denied Unemployment Benefits or the Benefit Is Too Low?

After filing a claim for unemployment benefits, you will receive a determination that either approves you for unemployment benefits or denies you benefits. If you receive a denial or a benefit that is at a lower level than you believe you are entitled to, you may file an appeal to IDES within 30 days of that determination. If you fail to file an appeal within the appropriate time, it is assumed you have accepted that determination and your right to appeal is lost.

If you file for an appeal within the appropriate time period, the matter is referred to a “referee.” This referee is an Administrative Law Judge that will conduct a review and hearing on your Unemployment Claim. This process is considered a Quasi-judicial hearing, which means that evidence and testimony will be presented and considered but this process is conducted outside of the traditional court system. The referee in this matter is a public servant hired by IDES but not an elected judge.

What Happens if I Was Awarded Benefits, but My Unemployment Claim is Being Contested?

If you are awarded benefits, your former employer has the right to contest that benefit award. If your former employer has filed a contest to your unemployment claim, either in the amount of the benefit or your eligibility, the matter is again referred to a referee in the manner described above.

Why is an Employer Allowed to Contest an Unemployment Claim?

The Unemployment Insurance Program is funded by employer payroll taxes. The employers have a vested interest in ensuring that this program is operated correctly and that former employees have not made false or inappropriate claims against the insurance fund. Additionally, employers that have former employees that use the unemployment fund frequently may be subject to a higher tax rate to account for the stress their former employees are putting on the system. Like all insurance programs, employers that cause the fund to make payments may find that they must contribute at a higher level.  

Why Has My Employer Contested My Unemployment Claim?

As mentioned above, the employers have a vested interest in ensuring that there are limited claims issued against the unemployment insurance fund due to an employer’s actions. It is likely that your claim has been contested based on your former employer’s contention that you are either ineligible for benefits or receiving too much of a benefit based on the initial determination. Employers want to ensure that the company is not being attributed with overburdening the program as they do not want to pay additional taxes towards the program.

Are Benefits Paid During the Contested Period?

Yes. A benefits determination will have been made and you will be paid in accordance with that determination during the contested period. The appeal process will be seeking to determine if that benefit is being paid in the appropriate amount. It is important to remember that while benefits will be received during this time period, it may be determined that those benefits should be reduced or denied.

Do I Need to Participate in the Contested Claim Process?

Yes. If you fail to participate in the review process or attend the hearing, should one be scheduled, your claim can be denied. If you initiated the appeal and fail to participate, your appeal will be dropped as you are no longer pursuing the issue.  

What Do I Need to Do for The Unemployment Benefit Appeal Process?

During this process you will be asked to produce all evidence and witnesses to demonstrate that you are entitled to the benefits that you are seeking. All evidence and potential witnesses will need to be disclosed to both the referee and your former employer in advance of the hearing date. The referee will send out a list of deadlines and requirements which you will need to comply with, as well as schedule an appropriate hearing date. Any witnesses must appear in person at the appropriate hearing dates. Affidavits or written statements are not generally accepted to evidence your position as both sides have the right to question all witnesses.

What Happens If My Benefits are Denied or Reduced After My Claim is Contested?

If your former employer contests your unemployment claim and it is determined that your benefits should be reduced or denied, this will be treated as an overpayment. If you receive an overpayment, you must repay IDES 100% of the funds that were received as part of the overpayment.

IDES will try to recapture or collect the funds that have been inappropriately paid to you. This can be done in a few ways. If your benefits are reduced but you will still be receiving some benefit, IDES can reduce your weekly benefit by up to 25% to reimburse the fund for the overpayment until paid in full. Alternatively, you may elect to pay the full amount back to IDES in a lump sum, which will leave your weekly benefit unaffected.  

If you are denied benefits entirely after originally being awarded benefits, you will need to pay back IDES directly. Failure to do so may disqualify you from future eligibility. Additionally, the State Comptrollers office may reduce any future payments to you to collect outstanding overpayment funds.   

Are There Any Appeal Rights After the Referee’s Decision?

Yes. If you are denied unemployment benefits after your initial application or after an employer contest, you may appeal the determination to the board of review which will consider the evidence presented and make a determination based on the application, evidence, and any determination provided by the original referee or hearing officer. Should the board of review’s decision come back unfavorable, you may seek to file a case within the appropriate County Court system. That Court will then be tasked with reviewing the record of during the administrative appeals process to determine if any error, bias, or violations of State law occurred.

Can I Do the Appeal Process on My Own?

The administrative appeal process is designed so that a person can navigate the application and appeal process without the help of an attorney or representative. IDES also contracts with private attorneys to assist in certain situations. That said, any errors or omissions that take place during the application process or any subsequent appeals will remain in effect. An attorney will not be able to go back and correct the record or fix those omissions. It is important be to diligent and aware of the legal ramifications anytime that you represent yourself in a legal or administrative proceeding as admissions, omissions, or other errors made early in the process will be binding if you seek to bring in representation at a later stage.


What Happens if I Am Denied Unemployment Benefits?
Author

Attorney Kevin O'Flaherty

Kevin O’Flaherty is a graduate of the University of Iowa and Chicago-Kent College of Law. He has experience in litigation, estate planning, bankruptcy, real estate, and comprehensive business representation.

What to Expect From a Consultation

The purpose of a free consultation is to determine whether our firm is a good fit for your legal needs. Although we often discuss expected results and costs, our attorneys do not give legal advice unless and until you choose to retain us. Although most consultations are complimentary, some may carry a charge depending on the type of matter and meeting location.


9 am - 5 pm M - F
After 5 pm by Appt
11 am - 3pm Sat by Appt
11 am - 2 pm Sun by Appt

Open Hours

Mon - Fri

9am - 7pm

By Appointment

Mon - Fri

after 7pm

Saturday

11 am - 3pm

Sunday

11 am - 2 pm


9 am - 5 pm M - F
After 5 pm by Appt
11 am - 3pm Sat by Appt
11 am - 2 pm Sun by Appt

Open Hours

Mon - Fri

9am - 7pm

Saturday

11 am - 3pm

Sunday

11 am - 2 pm


9 am - 5 pm M - F
After 5 pm by Appt
11 am - 3pm Sat by Appt
11 am - 2 pm Sun by Appt

O'Flaherty Law is happy to meet with you by phone, Zoom Call, or in person at any of our office locations in:

Our attorneys have experience in:

Contact us for a Free Consultation

Who We are

We are your community law firm. Our Iowa & Illinois Attorneys are committed to providing exceptional client service in a cost-effective manner in the areas of Family Law, Probate, Estate Planning, Civil Litigation, Guardianship, Criminal Defense, Corporate & Contract Law, Bankruptcy and Real Estate.
Disclaimer: Our articles and comment responses do not constitute legal advice and are not intended to create an attorney-client relationship.

Please contact us to schedule a consultation specific to your legal situation.