I've been turned down for Employment Insurance benefits
| Alert: As of April 1, 2013, all appeals for Employment Insurance must be submitted to a new Social Security Tribunal (SST). The Government of Canada's website provides a summary of the new appeal process.
The number of hours required to be entitled to EI benefits depends on the type of benefits you are seeking, your employment history, and the unemployment rate in the region where you live. Whatever the number of hours required, they must have been worked in your qualifying period, which is usually the year before you apply.
If you have quit your job without just cause or were fired for misconduct, you will usually be disqualified from receiving any regular EI benefits. If you are not available for work (which includes actively looking for a job), you can be disentitled until you become available. And if you make false statements to EI, you can be required to repay any benefits you shouldn't have received, and you may also have to pay EI a penalty for having acted dishonestly.
All such decisions are appealable. If EI has turned down your claimThe assertion of a legal right to an order or to a thing; the remedy or relief sought by a party to a court proceeding., or disqualified, disentitled or penalized you, you can appeal within 30 days of receiving 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. They cannot change the law, however.
Some decisions cannot be appealed to the Social Security Tribunal, such as decisions about how many hours you worked, or whether your job was insured under the EI system. Such "insurability" questions must be appealed within 90 days to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), with a further appeal to the Minister of National Revenue and the Tax Court.
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.
||Choosing the right type of appealAn application to a higher court for a review of the correctness of a decision of a lower court. A decision of a judge of the Provincial Court of British Columbia can be appealed to the Supreme Court of British Columbia. A decision of a judge of the Supreme Court can be appealed to the Court of Appeal for British Columbia. can be tricky. Some "insurability" questions, such as whether your job was insured under the EI system, must be appealed to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) rather than the Social Security Tribunal. If in doubt about the right type of appeal to file, seek legal advice.|
- Complete a written Notice of Appeal to the Social Security Tribunal General Division, or write the SST a letter of appeal. If you write a letter of appeal, be sure that you include all the information that is required on the form.
- Submit the appeal form or letter to the SST by mail or fax within 30 days after receiving EI's decision. It is best to attach a copy of the decision you are appealing.
What happens next
After your appeal has been filed, the Social Security Tribunal will send you a copy of your EI file, which contains all the information EI used to make its decisions on your application. A Social Security Tribunal member will review EI’s file as well as your appeal form and any information you have provided, and decide if your appeal should go forward. If it is dismissed, the Tribunal member will send you the decisionIn law, a judge's conclusions after hearing argument and considering the evidence presented at a trial or an application; a judgment; the judge's reasons. A judge's written or oral decision will include the judge's conclusions about the relief or remedies claimed as well as his or her findings of fact and conclusions of law. A written decision is called the judge’s "reasons for judgment." See "common law," "conclusions of law," and "findings of fact." in writing.
If your appeal goes forward, the Tribunal member will determine if a decision will be made on the record or if a hearingIn law, any proceeding before a judicial official to determine questions of law and questions of fact, including the hearing of an application and the hearing of a trial. See "decision" and "evidence." will take place. A decision on the record means the Tribunal member will decide based on the materialIn law, something that is relevant, important. A material fact is a fact relevant to a claim or a defence to a claim. See "claim," "evidence," and "fact." filed. If a hearing will take place, the Tribunal will contactA term under the ''Family Law Act'' that describes the visitation rights of a person who is not a guardian with a child. Contact may be provided by court order or by the agreement among the child's guardians who have parental responsibility for determining contact. See "guardian" and "parental responsibilities." you to schedule the hearing. You can present your own case or you can arrange for someone such as a lawyerA person licensed to practice law in a particular jurisdiction. See "barrister and solicitor." or an advocateA lawyer or a person other than a lawyer who helps clients with legal issues; to advocate a position on behalf of a client. or a friend to help you.
Following the hearing, the Tribunal member will issue a decision and send you a copy.
If you disagree with the decision made by the General Division, you can appeal to the second level of appeal at the Social Security Tribunal, 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 summarily dismissIn law, a judge’s decision not to grant a claim or to reject a court proceeding with or without trial. An application that is ''dismissed'' has been rejected by the judge. See "application." your appeal. Your appeal must be filed within 30 days of receiving the General Division’s decision.
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."
- Le Mouvement Action-Chômage de Montréal's "Unemployment Insurance Benefits Practical Guide & Tips."
Before meeting with a lawyer or advocate, complete the form Preparing for Your Interview included in this Guide. Make sure you bring copies of all documents relating to your caseIn law, a court proceeding; a lawsuit; an action; a cause of action; a claim. Also the historic decisions of the court. See "action," "case law, " "court proceeding," and "precedent.".
|The above was last reviewed for legal accuracy by Jim Sayre, February 2013.|
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