Denied unemployment? Here’s why. And the next steps to take.

Stephanie Cortes

Within the past 10 weeks, Americans have filed more than 40 million unemployment claims as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic. 2.1 million unemployment benefit claims were filed just within the last week.


If eligible, unemployed workers are typically able to receive 26 weeks of state financial benefits through the unemployment insurance program to replace some of their wages.


However, not everyone qualifies for unemployment benefits, even with the new laws passed in response to the pandemic. 


Another problem – getting in touch with the unemployment office in your state.  Many are having trouble contacting via phone or online because so many people are filing claims at the same time. 


If you are an individual who was denied unemployment or experiencing these similar challenges, know that you are not alone.  Here are some unemployment-specific answers and tips that may help.


Reasons why unemployment is denied


There may be many reasons why the EDD may not approve an individual for unemployment insurance. 

Voluntarily quitting your job for reason other than COVID-19

Generally, individuals who quit their jobs are not eligible for unemployment insurance. However, the CARES act has extended benefits to those who quit their work as a result of the pandemic. 

Fired for misconduct

If you were fired for serious misconduct then you may not be eligible for benefits. It is worth contacting your state unemployment agencies to have a better understanding of your state’s definition of misconduct. It varies, as does the level of proof your employer must have. 

Not having sufficient earnings or work during the base period

Unemployment benefits depend on a worker’s recent work history and earnings during a time frame known as the “base period.” This standard base period typically looks at the first four of the last five base period quarters preceding the date an unemployment claim is filed.

It is important to know that if you do not have sufficient wages, some state agencies may use the “alternative base period” to determine eligibility. That means they’ll look at the last four base period quarters prior preceding the date the claim was filed.

What next steps can I take if I was denied?


If you were denied unemployment, the next steps would be to see if you qualify under the new unemployment laws passed through the CARES Act. You can also appeal your claim.

Qualifying for unemployment benefits through the eligibility extensions in the CARES Act:

In response to the financial impacts of the Coronavirus pandemic, Congress passed the CoronaVirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act on March 27, 2020. 

The CARES package includes the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program that permits states to expand unemployment eligibility through the end of 2020. 

This program extends to many people who wouldn’t otherwise qualify under state laws, like self-employed contractors, gig workers, and freelancers. 

You may find your state’s unemployment agency information on the Department of Labor’s website. 


Appeal your claim

Once an individual files a claim, they generally will receive a notice back from the unemployment agencies notifying their status of approved or denied.

If you are denied unemployment, don’t give up. You are still able to file an appeal and obtain a hearing to present evidence in front of a judge. An appeal may be an opportunity to explain why your claim should be granted. Specific time frames to file an appeal depends on your state.

Can I re-apply for unemployment if I never heard back?


It may simply be because the system is stressed right now. 

If you have not heard back, Chris Nichols at CapRadio, suggests applying again. Although it may be difficult getting on the phone with a representative regarding your claim due to the high amount of call, it is suggested to re-submit your application. 

When re-applying for unemployment benefits, it is important to enter all of your information accurately to avoid having your claim delayed or denied. In other words, explain you’ve done this before. 


When to get a lawyer


You may want to speak to an attorney about your unemployment case if:

  • Your state allows you to file benefits for “good cause.” You may want to consult an attorney to understand what determines “good cause” such as situations like quitting your job to care for an ill family member.
  • You were fired for misconduct. An attorney may consult you and explain your eligibility based on your state’s definition of misconduct.
  • You are considering an appeal to a denial of unemployment. An attorney may represent you in court and help you present evidence to the judge of why your denial was made in error.
  • You believe an employer may be retaliating against you for filing an unemployment claim. 

LawChamps is here to connect you with an attorney who can help at an affordable rate. After all, we understand that money is tight these days. 

This article is intended to convey generally useful information only and does not constitute legal advice. Any opinions expressed are solely those of the author, not LawChamps.


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