For appeals of benefit determinations, a hearing officer known as an appeal tribunal chairman usually presides at the hearing. For appeals of employer liability determinations or for compromise requests, the appeal tribunal chairman may also hold the hearing, or serve as member of an administrative hearing committee that presides at the hearing. The chairman and the committee ensure the case's facts are fully developed and are impartial, as they have no vested interest in a case's outcome.
A hearing notice is issued to interested parties at least eight days before the hearing. The department will consider a request for postponement of the hearing on a case-by-case basis. Such a request will be decided based on department rules and the discretion of a chairman or the unit administrator. If a postponement of a benefit appeal or a employer liability appeal hearing is needed, please contact the Appeal Tribunal Unit or the Deputy Commissioner's office respectively as soon as possible.
Parties to a hearing have the right to testify, present witnesses and evidence, and examine and cross-examine other parties and witnesses. The hearing is the evidentiary hearing, meaning that interested parties should be present and ready at the scheduled place and time with all witnesses and evidence, and be prepared to dispose of all issues relating to the appealed determination(s).
If relevant evidence or a witness with relevant testimony is unable to be obtained voluntarily, a party may request that a subpoena for the evidence or witness be issued. Please make such a request as soon as it is clear that a subpoena is necessary.
The department may also present witnesses, such as a department field agent or investigator, to testify to the facts that led to a determination. These witnesses and any evidence they may present are treated the same as other witnesses.
Parties may chose to be represented by an attorney at the party's own expense. Notify the department and the other party of any representation as soon as possible to prevent any unneeded delay.
Claimant benefit appeal hearings are de novo, not be bound by prior findings or determinations of the department. However, certain employer liability determinations are considered to be prima facie correct unless evidence is presented to show otherwise.
Both types of hearings are recorded and conducted in accordance with department administrative rules. The rules do not need to conform to common law, statutory rules of evidence, or other technical rules of procedure.
After the hearing, a written decision is issued to the interested parties to a case that affirms, modifies, or reverses the determination, or addresses the compromise request.