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What Can Cause Unemployment Benefits to be Denied?

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Unemployment benefits are available for many workers who have been separated from their job or have had their hours cut through no fault of their own. But if you have left your job and file a claim for unemployment insurance, there is a possibility that you will be denied. Here are some of the most common reasons why this may happen.

You Voluntarily Quit Your Job

You could be denied unemployment compensation if you voluntarily quit your job without a compelling reason or good cause. Quitting because of a personal preference is neither a compelling reason nor a good cause.

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To be considered good cause, you must have quit out of necessity. Before quitting, you must have made a good faith effort to avoid quitting your job. This means that before quitting, you must have informed your company about the problem and given the company a chance to solve it.

There are some circumstances that qualify as compelling reasons for why you were forced to quit your job:

  • Family circumstances that made it impossible for you to work
  • Financial difficulties
  • Unacceptable working conditions
  • You were deceived about the conditions of employment
  • Your employer refused to pay you
  • Offensive conduct by your employer, such as abusive conduct, profanity at work, unfair accusations, or discrimination on the basis of race, sex, or age
  • Unsafe working conditions
  • Transportation problems
  • Leaving for other employment
  • You have good cause to quit your job if the average person, in the same situation, would have quit his or her job

You Were Fired from Your Job

If you were fired because of willful misconduct or other legitimate reason, you will be denied unemployment insurance benefits. This is something that your employer will have to prove in court if you appeal.

Other Disqualifying Reasons

Your state unemployment office can deny your application or revoke your benefits for various reasons including:

  • You are not reporting other income that you are receiving while on unemployment
  • You refused suitable work
  • You are unable or unavailable to work
  • You are incarcerated following a conviction
  • You are participating in a strike

If Your Employer Disputes Your Claim

When you file a claim for unemployment, the state agency verifies your claim with your previous employer. This is because employers must pay into the unemployment insurance fund. Depending upon many factors, the amount each employer pays can vary considerably. One variation is based on how often an employer lays off employees who then collect benefits. Each employer is assigned an "experience rating," which is a number used to measure how often an employer lays off workers who then file unemployment claims. The more often an employer's ex-workers make claims, the more the employer has to pay into the system. You can easily see that an unscrupulous employer might seek to keep its payments low by disputing the claims made by ex-employees.

It may even happen that after you get laid off, you file your unemployment claim and you start collecting checks. But after several weeks your checks stop coming because your previous employer has disputed your claim!

You Have the Right to Appeal

If you are disqualified and denied benefits, you have the right to file an appeal. The state will advise you of your appeal rights. There is an established time frame within which you need to make your appeal. If your previous employer has filed a dispute, it is up to them to prove that you were terminated for something that was your fault. If, for example, they claim that you were fired for bad behavior, they will need to produce human resources notices, signed by you, that document the alleged infraction. So if you apply for unemployment insurance and are denied, make sure you are given a legitimate reason-or get ready to file an appeal.