Collecting Unemployment Benefits While Awaiting an Appeal

by Lainie Petersen

During an unemployment appeal, your ability to collect benefits depends on several factors, including state law and who filed the appeal. In states where you can collect benefits during the appeals process, you may later have to repay those benefits if the state doesn't rule in your favor.

Types of Appeals

There are two types of unemployment appeals. The first is an applicant appeal, which you would file if you disagree with your state unemployment agency's decision to turn down your application for benefits. The second is an employer appeal: Your former employer can appeal your state's decision to award you unemployment compensation.

Benefit Collection

If your state turns down your application for benefits, you won't receive any money until you've successfully appealed the state's decision. If your employer appeals your state's decision to pay you benefits, your state's laws and policies determine whether you can collect unemployment benefits while your state unemployment agency makes a decision about your case.

Benefit Certification

All states require unemployment claimants to regularly certify for benefits. The certification process involves contacting the agency, either online or by phone, and answering questions that establish your eligibility for unemployment benefits. You should continue to certify for unemployment benefits during the appeal, even if you aren't receiving benefits. Many states warn that if you don't certify, you won't be able to collect back benefits after a successful appeal.


If the state agrees with your former employer and determines that you should not have been awarded unemployment benefits, any money that you did receive through the program will be considered an "overpayment" that you'll have to pay back. Each state has its own process for collecting overpayment: You may be able to repay the state in installments or even request that the state waive at least some of your overpayment debt. Other methods for collecting an overpayment from you include deducting what you owe from future unemployment claims, as well as seizing your state tax return or even filing a civil lawsuit against you.


Most states give unemployment applicants a limited time to file an appeal, often between 10 and 30 days after you receive notice that the state denied your application. Your state unemployment agency's website contains information that can help you understand what you need to do to file and argue your appeal. Another option is to hire a lawyer or seek advice from a legal aid office.

About the Author

Lainie Petersen writes about business, real estate and personal finance, drawing on 25 years experience in publishing and education. Petersen's work appears in Money Crashers, Selling to the Masses, and in Walmart News Now, a blog for Walmart suppliers. She holds a master's degree in library science from Dominican University.

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