We have said it before and now we’re saying it again: the number one rule, when you’re trying to get unemployment benefits, is don’t be lazy.  If you get to the appeals stage, things are going to get more complicated, and if you avoid figuring out what to do, guess what?  No benefits for you…

Case in point: Inglish Sulentic v. Link Snacks, decided March 3rd, 2014.  We don’t know many of the facts of this case, in fact we don’t know any of the facts because the fellow didn’t show up for his hearing.  He had been found ineligible for unemployment benefits at a fact-finding hearing on February 3rd and apparently he appealed, but after that he seems to have fallen off the face of the earth.  A notice telling the time and date of the appeal (to an administrative law judge) was mailed to him, but Mr. Sulentic never responded to the notice. 

On March 3rd, Mr. Sulentic failed to participate in the hearing.  And when you fail to participate in the hearing, the judge doesn’t give you the benefit of the doubt.  The judge can either make a new decision, or make a default ruling—i.e., stick with the decision that had already been made.  And that’s just what Administrative Law Judge Susan D. Ackerman did.

If you’re receiving unemployment benefits, or you want to, it is to your best advantage to learn all the rules about how to stay eligible and navigate the appeals process.  If Mr. Sulentic had read our Q&A on this stage of the appeals process, he might have stood a chance of winning this battle!  Here’s what he should have done:

Right after receiving notice of the appeal, he should have telephoned the Appeals Bureau at (515) 281-3747, letting them know that he was going to participate, and what number he could be reached at.  If he had witnesses, he should have provided their numbers at that time as well.  Then, he should have been available at the scheduled date and time, answered the phone, said his bit, and maybe had a chance at winning!

Now let’s say Mr. Sulentic moved and the appeal notice was sent to his old address.  In that case, he should have known the notice of appeal was on its way, and called the Appeals Bureau.  And he could have asked for information on the appeals process at any  IowaWORKS Center.

Here’s the thing: even if the appeal itself is simple, making sure you’re following the rules can be confusing and stressful.  A tiny procedural slipup can mess up your whole case.  So if you want to get unemployment benefits, you need to either know all the rules yourself, or engage a lawyer to do it for you.

 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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