Steps in an unemployment benefits claim
Colorado’s unemployment law sets up four stages for benefits claims.
Stage 1: Decision by a deputy. The deputy asks the employer and employee for their position as to an award of benefits, and makes the first decision. The deputy’s decision becomes final if it is not appealed on time. The deputy’s written decision informs the parties when an appeal must be filed. A notice of appeal must be filed within 20 days after the deputy’s written decision is mailed.
Stage 2: Hearing Officer review. This hearing is “de novo” . This is latin for “anew” or “from the beginning.” It means nothing the deputy decided is binding, or even persuasive. The hearing officer is not limited to reviewing the issues the deputy considered. The hearing officers are lawyers. This is the only opportunity for live testimony and cross examination under oath. It is crucial to put on your best case at this stage. Hearing officers make written decisions which are usually mailed within one to three weeks after the hearing. Hearing officer decisions are final unless they are appealed within 20 days after their written decision is mailed.
Stage 3: Appeal to Industrial Claim Appeals Office. Appeals to this Office are decided by two members of the Industrial Claims Appeals Panel. This is not a “de novo” hearing. No testimony is taken, and no new evidence may be introduced. The Panel considers whether the Hearing Officer completely disregarded evidence, improperly ruled on requests made during the hearing, or did something incorrect in applying the law. All arguments are done in writing.
Stage 4: Appeals of Industrial Claims Appeals Office rulings go to the Colorado Court of Appeals. Costs to go to this level are substantial, because this is a full court proceeding, subject to the Colorado Appellate Rules. The Court of Appeals is required to expedite decisions on unemployment appeals.
If you are late in filing an appeal, see an attorney immediately. The law does provide for showing “good cause” why your appeal was not filed on time.