Fact-Finding Hearings and Appeals for Unemployment Benefits


Many people who file for unemployment have to go through a hearing to find out if they get benefits. Here is an overview of this process.

What happens when my application is contested?
You and your employer will have a fact-finding interview with a representative from Iowa Workforce Development (IWD). Both you and your employer will get a "Notice of Unemployment Insurance Fact-Finding Interview." This notice will tell you the date and time of the interview. It will also have the telephone number IWD will use to call you.
The IWD representative will call you at the time of the fact-finding interview.
If you cannot take part in the fact-finding interview at the scheduled time, let IWD know right away. Otherwise, you may lose your benefits.

What takes place during a fact-finding interview?
Parties in a fact-finding interview will be able to:
Cross-examine opposing parties and witnesses;
Present testimony of witnesses;
Have a copy of the case file to inspect and review;
Record the proceedings using their own equipment and at their own expense.
Parties can submit a written statement in lieu of testimony at a fact-finding interview if they wish.

How do I find out the result of a fact-finding interview and what if I disagree?

  • A few days after the interview, you will get a decision in the mail.
  • If you do not agree with the decision, you have 10 days to appeal. The days are counted from the date on the bottom of the decision. Your employer may also appeal the decision.
  • You can appeal online or mail your appeal (click here for appeal form) to:

Iowa Workforce Development Appeals Bureau
1000 East Grand Ave.
Des Moines, IA 50309-0209

What happens after someone appeals the fact-finding decision?

  • When either you or your employer appeal the fact-finding decision, the case will be assigned to an Administrative Law Judge.
  • There will be a formal hearing over the telephone, but you can ask for an in-person hearing.
  • You will have to give IWD a number where you can be reached at the time scheduled for the hearing.
  • At the hearing, both you and your employer will be able to testify about the facts in your case.
  • You will also be able to bring witnesses and any other evidence that you have about the case.
  • This hearing is a formal, due process hearing. All parties and witnesses will be sworn in. The hearing will be recorded on tape.

Who takes part in a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge and what do they look at?

  • This hearing is the most important step in the appeals process. You will generally not be able to add any new information about your case after this hearing.
  • You must offer as evidence any papers you want the judge to consider. This must be done at the time of the hearing. This is true even if the document is part of the fact-finding file.
  • If you are going to offer a document as evidence, you should fax it into the judge and to the employer prior to the time of the hearing if the hearing is by phone. The fax number for the IWD Appeals Bureau is (515) 242-5144.
  • If the hearing is in-person, bring extra copies of the document for the judge and the employer and present them at the time of the hearing.
  • Both you and your employer may be represented by a lawyer at this hearing.
  • The Administrative Law Judge will send out a decision after the hearing.

What is the difference between a telephone hearing and an in-person hearing?

  • At a telephone hearing, the judge, you and your employer will all take part in a conference call.
  • At an in-person hearing, everyone is together in the same room.
  • Only 16 IWD centers across the state conduct in-person hearings.
  • You will likely have to wait longer for an in-person hearing than for a telephone hearing.
  • If you were already approved for benefits after your fact-finding interview, you will continue to get benefits while you wait for the hearing.
  • If you are continuing to get benefits while you wait, you may have to pay back those benefits if you lose at the hearing.
  • Is waiting longer to have an in-person hearing a good or bad idea?
    • Waiting could be bad if you lose at the hearing, you will have a larger amount of benefits to pay back.
    • Waiting could be good if you need time to prepare for the hearing. You may be able to use the time to conduct what is called "discovery." Discovery lets you ask your employer in writing to get documents and answers to questions to help you prove your case.

What if I don't agree with the Administrative Law Judge's decision?

  • If you disagree, you have 15 days to appeal. The 15 days start on the date at the bottom of the decision. Your employer may also appeal.
  • Appeals are made to the Employment Appeal Board (EAB). The Employment Appeal Board is a 3-person panel appointed by the governor.
  • You should mail your appeal to: Employment Appeal Board, 4th Floor - Lucas Building, Des Moines, IA 50319-0209 or fax it to (515) 281-7191.
  • The EAB will send you a CD recording of the hearing. You have seven days from the date the CD is mailed to you to submit in writing why you think the Administrative Law Judge's Decision was right or wrong. If seven days is not enough time, you can get a seven-day extension if you request it in writing within seven days of when the CD was mailed to you.
  • The EAB members will review a transcript or CD of the hearing. They will also look at any evidence in the case, along with written arguments submitted by the parties. Then they will issue a written decision.

If you do not agree with the EAB's decision, you have two options:

  • You can ask the EAB for a rehearing of your case; OR
  • You can appeal to the Iowa District Court.

A request for rehearing must be made within 20 days of the date of the EAB's decision. An appeal to the Iowa District Court must be filed within either 30 days of the EAB's decision, or within 30 days of the EAB denying your request for rehearing. If the EAB takes no action on a request for rehearing within 20 days of receiving it, the request for rehearing is considered to be denied.

The District Court will issue a written decision a few months after your appeal. From there, you may appeal to the Iowa Supreme Court. An appeal to the Iowa Supreme Court must be made within 30 days of the date of the District Court's decision.

Do I have to keep doing work searches during my appeal?
Yes, you should keep filing your weekly continued claims during the appeal process.

Last Review and Update: Mar 28, 2011

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