I've been turned down for Employment Insurance benefits
Employment Insurance (EI) may give one of these reasons for turning you down:
- You do not have enough hours of work to qualify. To get EI benefits, you must have worked a certain number of hours. You must have worked those hours in your qualifying period, which is usually the year before you apply.
- You were fired for just cause. (a good legal reason)
- You quit without just cause.
- You are not available for work (includes not actively looking for a job). You may not be able to get EI benefits until you are available for work.
- You made false statements to EI. You may have to repay some benefits and you may have to pay a penalty.
You can appeal any of these decisions
If you feel that EI has treated you unfairly, the best advice is simple: APPEAL! It's free, and it's the only chance you have to receive the benefits you feel you deserve.
You can appeal (ask for a reconsideration of your claim) if EI:
- has refused you benefits
- says you have to repay benefits
- has given you a warning letter and/or a penalty
You appeal the decision to the General Division of the Social Security Tribunal (SST). The Tribunal can usually overturn EI's decision if they believe that it was wrong. But they cannot change the law.
If your disagreement is about things such as how many hours you worked, or whether your job was insured under the EI system, these are "insurability" questions. You have to appeal them within 90 days to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) and not the Social Security Tribunal. If you are in doubt about the right type of appeal to file, get some legal help.
If EI has turned down your claim, or disqualified, disentitled or penalized you, you can appeal within 30 days from the day you receive the decision. You appeal to the General Division of the Social Security Tribunal (SST). Here’s what you need to do:
- Complete the form, Notice of Appeal, to the Social Security Tribunal (SST) - General Division, or write the SST a letter of appeal. If you write a letter of appeal, be sure to include all the information that is required on the form.
- Send the appeal form or letter to the SST by mail or fax. You must do this within 30 days from the day you received EI's decision. It is best to attach a copy of the decision you are appealing.
The Government of Canada's website provides a summary of the appeal process. Look under Employment Insurance Appeals – EI General Division.
What happens next
After you have filed your appeal, the Social Security Tribunal will send you a copy of your EI file. This file contains all the information EI used to make its decision.
A Social Security Tribunal (SST) member will review the EI file as well as your appeal form or letter and any other information you have provided.
The Social Security Tribunal member will decide one of two things:
- your appeal goes forward, or
- your appeal is dismissed.
The Social Security Tribunal member will send you the decision in writing.
If your appeal is dismissed, you can appeal that decision. See the section, If you disagree with the Tribunal’s decision
If your appeal goes forward
If your appeal goes forward, the Social Security Tribunal member will do one of two things: make a decision on the record, or hold a hearing.
- A decision on the record means the Tribunal member will decide based on the EI file and the materials you sent.
- If a hearing will take place, the Tribunal will contact you to schedule the hearing. You can present your own case, or you can arrange for someone such as a lawyer or an advocate or a friend to help you. See Where to get help to find someone who can help you.
After the hearing, the Tribunal member will make the decision, put it in writing and send you a copy.
If you disagree with the Tribunal’s decision
If you disagree with the decision, you can go to the second level of appeal at the Social Security Tribunal. This is called the Appeal Division.
You will need leave to appeal (permission to appeal) to this second level, unless you are appealing the General Division’s decision to dismiss your appeal.
You must file your appeal within 30 days of the day you got the decision from the General Division.
The Government of Canada's website provides a summary of the appeal process. Look under Employment Insurance Appeals – EI Appeal Division.
Where to get help
See the Resource List in this guide for a list of helpful resources. Your best bets are:
- Service Canada, and particularly their resources on Employment Insurance: the EI Homepage, a section for Employment Insurance Appellants, and a collection of EI appeal decisions favouring workers.
- Access Pro Bono, Lawyer Referral Service, and private bar lawyers.
- Community Legal Assistance Society.
- The Law Students' Legal Advice Program Manual chapter on "Employment Insurance."
Before you meet with a lawyer or advocate, complete the form Preparing for Your Interview included in this guide. When you go to the meeting, make sure you take copies of all the documents about your case.
|The above was last reviewed for legal accuracy by Jim Sayre, February 2013.|
|Legal Help for British Columbians © Cliff Thorstenson and Courthouse Libraries BC is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 Canada Licence.|