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55. If Unemployment Benefits Are Denied, How Long Does a Claimant Have To Request A Hearing?

If the claimant is disqualified, generally she has 10 days after the date of hand‑delivery or the postmark date on the notice of disqualification in which to request a hearing. DUA uses the date it receives the hearing request or the postmark date if received after the tenth day, to determine timeliness.

If using UI Online: For an appeal of the benefit amount (monetary appeal), click a link in the “Status” column of the Monetary Determination area of the page; for an appeal of an eligibility determination (non-monetary), click a link in the “Issue Determination” column of the Determination of Eligibility area. All appeal case documents can be viewed on these pages by selecting “View Appeal Case Documents.” The appeal case folder is not available until a hearing has been scheduled.

Good-Cause Extension

An appeal may be filed within 30 days if the claimant can show good cause for the late filing. The regulations at 430 CMR 4.14(11) set out the following examples of good cause: 

(1) A delay by the United States Postal Service in delivering DUA’s determination;

(2) Death of a household member or an immediate family member (including a spouse, child, parent, brother, sister, grandparent, stepchild or parent of a spouse);

(3) A documented serious illness or hospitalization of a party household member an immediate family member during the entire ten day filing period or a portion of the appeal period if the party's ability to timely appeal is thereby affected;

(4) An emergency family crisis which requires a party's immediate attention during the entire ten day filing period or a portion of the appeal period if the party's ability to timely appeal is thereby affected;

(5) An inability to effectively communicate or comprehend English and the party is unable to find a suitable translator to explain the notice of determination within the ten day filing period;

(6) DUA’s determination is not received and the party promptly files a request for a hearing after they know or should have known that a determination was issued;

(7) A continuing absence from the Commonwealth, while seeking employment, during all or most of the ten day filing period;

(8) Intimidation, coercion or harassment by an employer resulting in a party failing to timely request a hearing;

(9) A DUA employee directly discourages a party from timely requesting a hearing and such discouragement results in a party believing that a hearing is futile or that no further steps are necessary to file a request for a hearing.

(10) An inability because of illiteracy or a psychological disability to understand that a request for a hearing must be filed within the ten day filing period;

(11) The individual's need to address the physical, psychological and legal effects of domestic violence as defined in M.G.L. c. 151A, § 1(g1⁄2);

(12) Any other circumstances beyond a party's control which prevented the filing of a timely appeal.

It is not required that a claimant exhaust all possible options to show good cause for a late appeal, instead claimants are held to a standard of reasonableness. The Board has held that a claimant has shown good cause for a late appeal when unable to open determination online after it was sent by the DUA, and the claimant undertook reasonable efforts to try to read the determination and appeal it. BR-0029 2124 94 (6/20/19).

The Board held that a claimant’s request for a hearing must be granted where the claimant submitted the request 19 days after the Notice of Determination was mailed to the wrong address. The Board relied on both G.L. c. 151A, § 39(b)’s allowance for submission of a hearing request within 30 days after the determination was mailed if the claimant had good cause, and the clarification in 430 CMR 4.14(6) that failure to receive the determination may constitute good cause if the party “promptly” files the hearing request. BR-112257 (3/11/2011) (Key). Likewise, a late request for a hearing is excused where the request was delayed due to the claimant’s not receiving notice of the determination while working away from home for an extended period. BR-125584 (3/12/13). The Board has also ruled that a claimant whose request for a hearing was due the day after Thanksgiving had good cause to file an appeal beyond the 10-day period due to a mistaken belief that DUA offices were closed the day after Thanksgiving. BR-113018 (2/28/11). Additionally, the Board has held that a mental health condition that prevents the claimant from filing a timely appeal constitutes good cause. BR-1841076 (10/14/14). Similarly, the Appeals Court has taken a broad view of good cause for an employer’s failure to submit wage information to DUA on time. Khodaverdian v. Dep’t of Emp't & Training, 39 Mass. App. Ct. 414, 656 N.E.2d 1270 (1995).

In a Boston Municipal Court decision, the claimant had inadvertently chosen notification by email instead of postal mail when signing up for benefits on UI Online, although the claimant had very minimal computer access and rarely used email. Where the claimant was awarded UI but unaware of the employer’s appeal failed to attend the hearing resulting in the reversal of the grant of UI benefits being reversed, the Court found good cause for a late appeal and remanded the case for a new hearing. Wali v. Amante, Boston Municipal Court, CA No.  2014 CV 117 (2014).

As a settlement of a Suffolk Superior Court case which challenged DUA’s refusal to reinstate an appeal of a claimant who had defaulted while out of state due to a family emergency, DUA agreed to reinstate the claimant’s appeal and adopt and follow sub-regulatory standards for the reinstatement of an appeal.  Hicks v. King, Suffolk Superior Court, CA 00-04546-E (2000).  A copy of the standards are attached as Appendix O. 

Beyond 30 Days: Tolling and Reconsideration

Under very limited circumstances, an appeal may be filed after 30 days if equitable tolling principles apply, e.g., discouragement by DUA or the employer, or non-receipt of the notice. 430 CMR 4.15. Note: claimants should receive an email or text message alert when DUA sends a new notice to their UI Online inbox. If a claimant did not receive an electronic alert, the Board has found that DUA failed to provide proper notice of its original decision and allowed the appeal filed beyond 30 days from the notice of determination. See N6-FMKM-4FFL (11/29/21); see also BR-0055 8011 26 (3/29/21).

A DUA regulation at 430 CMR § 4.13(4) extends the appeal period in certain instances involving LEP. (See Question 52.)

If all appeal times have elapsed and you do not have grounds to assert equitable tolling, consider seeking relief by a request for reconsideration made to DUA. G.L. c. 151A, § 71; 430 CMR. 4.30 et seq. Generally speaking, a request for reconsideration must be made within one year from the determination or decision. G.L. c. 151A, § 71, ¶ 1.