What do I do if I move and cannot attend the Referee Hearing in person?

After you or your Employer files an appeal to the Notice of Determination, you will receive a Notice of Hearing in the mail. This Notice of Hearing states the date, time and location of your Referee Hearing. The Referee Hearing is your only chance to present testimony and witnesses concerning your application for unemployment compensation benefits (“UC Benefits”), which is why it is so important to attend the hearing. However, there are some situations where a party moves or re-locates and is extremely far from where the Referee Hearing has been scheduled. What do you do then?

The answer is to schedule the Referee Hearing as a Telephone Hearing. While in-person testimony is preferred, there are some situations where a Referee will permit a party to testify by telephone.

When will a Referee permit a party to participate by telephone?

The Referee may allow a party to participate by telephone if the party is located at least fifty (50) miles from the location of the where the Referee Hearing will be held. For example, if the Referee Hearing is being held in Pittsburgh, PA and you recently re-located to Baltimore, Maryland, the Referee will likely allow you to participate by telephone because of the distance.

How do you request to participate by telephone?

Once you receive your Notice of Hearing in the mail and it identifies the Referee assigned to hear your appeal, you must submit a request to that Referee asking to participate by telephone. You can submit the request via email or fax. You will then receive confirmation from the Referee Office if you have been granted permission to participate by telephone. If you have been granted permission, the Referee Hearing will be rescheduled and you will receive a new Notice of Hearing in the mail within a few weeks.

For example, let’s say your Referee Hearing was scheduled for August 1, 2015 and you want to participate by telephone because you recently moved. You send in a request to the Referee to participate by telephone and it is granted. You will receive a phone call from someone at the Referee’s Office stating your request has been granted. You Referee Hearing on August 1, 2015 will be postponed for a later date. You will receive a new Notice of Hearing in the mail. The reason your Hearing on August 1, 2015 was postponed is because at least 14 days notice must be given to all parties that a Telephone Hearing has been scheduled.

What is the procedure of a Telephone Referee Hearing?

If your request to participate by telephone has been granted, you will receive a new Notice of Hearing in the mail. The Notice of Hearing will include instructions of how the Telephone Hearing will proceed. For Telephone Referee Hearings, all parties who wish to have documents entered or testified from at the Hearing must submit them to the Referee Office at least five (5) days before the Hearing. All parties must submit all documents to the Referee in advance so the Referee can forward a copy of those documents to all the parties participating by telephone. Therefore, there are no surprises at a Telephone Referee Hearing.

For all parties participating by telephone, you must contact the Referee Office before the Hearing if the telephone number appearing on the new Notice of Hearing is incorrect. You want to make sure the Referee has the correct number so he/she can contact you on the day of the Hearing. It is important to keep your telephone line open at least fifteen (15) minutes prior to the start time of your Hearing because the Referee will be contacting you. You want to make sure your phone line is open. You will not contact the Referee in order to participate.

It is also important to note that the Referee will be calling parties on a telephone line that will not display the originating telephone number. If your telephone has the capability of blocking incoming calls, you need to make sure you correct that so you can accept all incoming calls. It is the party’s responsibility to make sure he/she is able to accept the Referee’s call.

Once you are connected to the Referee, the Hearing will proceed as usual. You will be able to offer testimony in order to prove why you should be eligible for benefits.