What Happens If You Lose an Unemployment Appeal?

What Happens If You Lose an Unemployment Appeal?. If you lose an unemployment appeal, you still may be able to have the decision overturned through the Unemployment Insurance (UI) office. When the office does not overturn the decision, you can seek other help through your jurisdiction's court system. Depending on the reason for the appeal, you may have to face legal action from the UI office, but generally, your unemployment case simply stops once you lose the UI and court appeals at your disposal.

Appeal to Board of Appeals

In most states, Unemployment Insurance offices have an appeals board to whom you can take your case if representatives from the office initially deny your claim for any reason. The appeals board will review your case to determine whether the original representatives made a mistake in their decision. You cannot introduce new information about your case to the appeals board, but you can point to transcripts from your hearing or other documentation to prove that you should have been approved for benefits. In most instances, the appeals board upholds the original decision about your case. However, occasionally the appeals board finds there is sufficient evidence to warrant a new review of your application. You'll be summoned to another hearing in that instance.

Appeal to Court

Should the board of appeals for unemployment for your state deny your appeal, the next step in most jurisdictions is to file a formal civil suit with the circuit court or court of appeals. This requires you and an attorney to present evidence to a judge that demonstrates why the original UI representatives and board of appeals erred. If you win your case, the judge may issue a ruling that forces the UI office to award you benefits. If you lose, you can continue appealing through the court, but higher courts usually uphold the decisions made by lower courts. Appeals to the court at any level can be costly.

Repayment of Benefits

If you already have received benefits before an unemployment appeal is necessary, such as if you received payments and were charged with willful misrepresentation of facts in your claim, the UI office may ask you to repay some or all of the benefits the office overpaid. If you fail to do this and you have been found guilty of improper conduct related to the claim, the unemployment office also may impose penalties against you for future claims. The office also may pursue legal action against you for abuse of the system.

Bottom Line

In most instances, if you lose an unemployment appeal, your unemployment case simply stops unless you want to pursue further appeals through the board of appeals or circuit or appeals courts. If the appeal is not related to misconduct, you are unlikely to face any legal action from the Unemployment Insurance office.


  • Lawhelp.org; Appealing Unemployment Decisions; August 2001
  • Maryland Employment Lawyer Blog: What Happens If You Lose Your Unemployment Appeal?; Andrew M. Dansicker; February 2010
  • Colorado Department of Labor & Employment; Frequently Asked Questions About ICAO Unemployment Appeals; 2011