So you’ve filed your claim for Iowa unemployment benefits.  You’ve done your homework and you’ve attended a fact-finding interview to determine whether or not you’re eligible.  What happens if turns out you’re ineligible?

Well, if you want to, you can appeal your case to an Administrative Law Judge.  As a general rule, the higher up you go in an appeals process, the more formal it becomes, so you need to be sure to follow all the procedural rules so that your case doesn’t collapse under you.  One of those rules requires that your appeal be received or postmarked within ten calendar days of the mailing date indicated in the decision.  If you get around to this too late, you can kiss any chance of getting unemployment benefits goodbye.

There exists only a small range of excuses that will allow you to submit a late appeal and have it be accepted:  In order for your late appeal to be considered timely, you must “establish…to the satisfaction of the division that the delay in submission was due to division error or misinformation or to delay or other action of the United States postal service.”  So you have to show either that Iowa Workforce Development either messed up or gave you incorrect information, or the mail came late or was otherwise disturbed.  Didn't read the decision well enough?  Your appeal will still be considered untimely.

In one recent case, the claimant filed a claim for unemployment benefits but her claim was denied in a decision dated December 24, 2013. She had until January 3rd to get her appeal postmarked or received.  The claimant received the decision on or around December 30th, and she called Iowa Workforce Development to ask what her options were.  The person she spoke to did not tell her to send in an appeal; instead, she was advised to send in a doctor’s statement regarding her availability to work (the primary issue in her case).  The claimant sent in the statement around January 14, 2014. 

No further action occurred until February 27th, when a decision was mailed out that informed the claimant that she had been overpaid about $2,500 in unemployment benefits.  She again contacted Iowa Workforce Development, and went on to file her appeal.

Administrative Law Judge Steven A. Wise decided her appeal.  Although the claimant was ultimately unsuccessful on her claim, Judge Wise ruled that her late appeal was submitted on time.  He determined that the agency had erred in her case, and that therefore her appeal must be considered a timely submission.

The claimant was lucky that the reason her appeal was filed late due to error that wasn't her own.  If you’ve received an unemployment benefits decision that isn’t good for you and you don’t know what to do, consider getting a lawyer to take of it for you.  Unless you know all the rules back to front, a lawyer is better suited to handle your case than you are.  I like to say to my clients, "Help me to help you."  If we can help you call the Lombardi Law Firm to speak with attorneys Steve Lombardi and Katrina Schaefer. We can be reached at 515-222-1110 or by emailing us at [email protected] and [email protected] We look forward to your call.

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