Unemployment rates rose at exponential rates in March 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic wreaked havoc on healthcare systems, families, and the economy. Congress enacted several pieces of legislation to assist struggling families. One such piece of legislation provided extra funds for unemployment assistance benefits. Unfortunately, as the economy looks to be on the road to recovery, some of former and current unemployed South Dakotans are facing yet another crisis: receiving a determination notice that thousands of dollars in unemployment assistance benefits need to be repaid. If you, a family member, or friend have received such a notice lately, here is what you need to know to appeal the determination:
- File Your Appeal on Time. The Determination Notice will have a date of mailing. You have 15 days from the date of mailing to file your appeal via mail or fax.
- Read everything. After filing an appeal, you will receive an appeals brochure that sets out the appeal process and how you can prepare for the appeal hearing. The brochure will also detail how the hearing will go, suggest the use of evidence or witnesses, and explain what happens after the hearing is done.
- Document, Document, Document! Keep track of every single week you apply for benefits. Download your weekly application and keep it in a file on your computer. Start a spreadsheet that tracks every job you have applied for, what date you applied, and the outcome. This will help with putting together your strategy for your appeal hearing.
Finally, if you have lingering questions or concerns about your appeal, hire an attorney. It is best to hire an attorney as soon as you receive your Determination Notice. An attorney will help you assess which defenses will work in your case and help determine if you are able to request a waiver. The waiver permits the State to release its ability to recoup benefits paid. An attorney can also help put together your full case strategy to try and get the best possible outcome from your appeal hearing.
Unemployment appeals are not pleasant. The thought of repaying thousands of dollars is not one that anyone wants. Getting the right assistance and knowing the process ahead of time gives you the best strategy to try for the best outcome.