Saturday, April 28, 2012

Representing Yourself at Pittsburgh Unemployment Compensation Hearings

Pittsburgh unemployment compensation appeal hearings can be a trying experience for Pittsburgh workers that have recently lost their job.  Out of work individuals often face a tough decision before the appeal occurs.  I am talking about the decision of whether to hire an attorney for the hearing.  In many situations it is advisable to pay the money for expert representation.  Especially when the extent of unemployment compensation benefits is significant.

There will, however, be many times when it might be worth saving your money and handling the hearing on your own.  If you decide that the amount of money in contest is maybe not worth the outlay of cash necessary to bring an attorney along, there I want to give you a couple pointers to keep in mind to improve your chances.

First, scrutinize the Notice of Hearing you receive.  Specifically, you need to understand the exact basis for why you were denied.  The Notice of determination spells out the exact UC provision that is being relied upon to deny your benefits.  When you figure that out you need to make that the focus of your argument.  In my experience UC referees are good people but, due to the large volume of cases they have to handle, can get annoyed when claimants stray off topic.  If you were denied benefits because the UC determined that you left work voluntarily then do not bother telling the judge about issues unrelated to that.  Read the law that the UC relied on and figure out how you can prove that this was incorrect.

Second, try to determine whether anyone from your employer or the UC office is going to attend to oppose you.  Often times your employer will not contest your application.  In these situations you just need to provide your own credible testimony and evidence to overcome the reason for denial.  In my experience when no one opposes benefits are granted the vast majority of time.

Third,  REVIEW THE CLAIM FILE BEFORE THE HEARING!  Get to the hearing office well before your hearing is scheduled.  Then go into the check in area and request to review your file.  The file contains all of the evidence upon which the determination was made.  Often times this includes documents signed or attested to by people that will not be present at the hearing.  If you see this and know that these people will not be present at the hearing then you can object to these documents admission during the hearing on the basis of HEARSAY.  The referee will always exclude this evidence.  This will only help your case as the referee can only make his determination based on what he hears during the hearing and what he reads in the claim file as of the close of the hearing.

As a dovetail to this, you can offer all of the evidence you want into the record if it is not going to be opposed.  A dirty secret in this situation is that if the other side does not bring an attorney then they will not know to object to the documents you offer.  All documents you offer into evidence will be admitted unless they are objected to.  So offer everything in your favor if the other side does not have an attorney.  And object on hearsay to everything the other side offers that you think is bad for your claim.

Lastly, be polite and courteous to the referee.  As I mentioned these are good people that deal with endless hearings all day long.  Often times their patience has been tried.  If you are polite and courteous to them, chances are they will be the same way to you in their decision.  Every little bit helps.

If you have any other questions about tips for these hearings, feel free to email me.  I hope this helps you get the benefits you deserve!

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