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Use snail mail, not e-mail, to file unemployment appeal

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in Employee Benefits Program,Human Resources

While it may seem convenient to use e-mail to file appeals of unemployment compensation decisions, be aware of this risk: If the Unemployment Compensation Board of Review doesn't receive your e-mail, your appeal will be rejected when the 15-day appeal period expires.

It's far safer to appeal the old-fashioned way: early, via snail mail, return receipt requested.

Recent case: After being terminated, Edward McClean filed for unemployment compensation benefits, and he was granted them. His former employer appealed and (after a hearing) McClean was denied benefits. He received a copy of the decision in the mail. The state law allows 15 days to file an appeal.

His attorney e-mailed the Unemployment Compensation Board of Appeals a notice of appeal, as is now allowed. When he heard nothing from the agency, he followed up with a letter, postmarked one day after the 15-day limit expired.

The Commonwealth Court dismissed his appeal because the agency said "the date of filing [the appeal] is the receipt date recorded" by the agency, and the risk that e-mail may not be received on time rests with the person sending the e-mail. (McClean v. Unemployment Compensation Board of Review, No. 716 C.D. 2006, Commonwealth Court, 2006)

Final tip: The safest approach is to send a hard copy via the post office. But if you still prefer to appeal via e-mail, make sure you receive an acknowledgment from the agency. You can also set e-mail to deliver a return receipt when the recipient opens it. Then, mark your calendar for a few days before the 15-day appeal period expires to double-check that the agency received your e-mail.  

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