Denied EI Benefits – What Are My Options?

A picture of person stressed to denote a person who was denied EI benefits and doesn't know what to do next.

If you ever been denied EI benefits, it is a horrible feeling. You feel crushed and hopeless as you think that there are now no other options. Now the reality is that Employment Insurance has criteria that one needs to meet to qualify for EI such as having enough insurable hours of employment and so on.

However, things can get a bit murky when it comes to the issue of quitting your job or being fired from it. These issues are adjudicated based on the EI Act and EI digest and then a decision is made to allow your reason of separation or not. It’s in these areas where many people get frustrated as they might feel that they have a valid reason for leaving their job. However, they are denied EI benefits. Is there any other options if you are denied?

Denied EI Benefits – You Can Appeal the Decision

If you are denied EI benefits, you can write a letter back to appeal the decision. You have 30 days after the date of your EI notice of decision letter to do so. In the letter you need to clearly explain why the decision was wrong and provide as much details as possible on why you should have received EI. Sometimes this is where many people get denied in the first place, as they do not fully explain the circumstances that led to them to be fired or them to quit. In the appeal letter, you need to give all these details.

When you send your letter back, it goes to the appeals department where benefit officers will look at your EI claim again and see if there were things missed when the original decision was made. If they look at it and deem that you should have received EI benefits, the decision will be reversed and they will set up your EI claim and inform you of the decision. However, what happens if they uphold original decision to deny you EI?

Board of Referees Hearing

If the appeals department upholds original decision, then your appeal will go to the Board of Referees for a hearing. A date for the hearing will be set and your EI claim will be adjudicated by a three person panel. You can show up for the hearing and present your information to them if you like. A representative from EI Benefits can also come and present evidence also but most of the time, this doesn’t happen as the Board of Referees will have the EI file that the officer made with the details on why they made their decision. They will take this information and any additional information you present and come to a decision to either allow your EI claim or not. What happens if my EI is still denied, are there any other options?

Denied EI Benefits – Appeal to An Umpire

You can appeal the Board of Referees’ decision and it will go to a person called an Umpire. This person will look at all the EI information that is collected at that point and will make a decision base on the EI Act and EI digest above and on previous legal precedents. If the Umpire feels that the person does qualify for EI benefits then the claim is set up. One point of note is that Employment Insurance can also appeal a Board of Referees decision to the Umpire if they feel that the person should not be collecting EI benefits. So what happens if the Umpire still denies my EI claim. Is there any other options?

Last Options – Federal Court and Supreme Court

If you still feel that you should get EI benefits at this point, you can take the case to Federal Court. However, this might take some time (perhaps years) for your case to be heard. At this point, if the Federal Court rules against you, the last option is taking the case to the Supreme Court which will take even more time and there is no guarantees they would even hear your case. At this point, all options would have been exhausted.

Conclusion

There are options to appeal an EI decision that denies you of collecting EI benefits. However, the longer you go in the process, they longer it takes and the road is more and more difficult. So in the end, it comes down to how far you want to take things and do you really feel that the decision made to deny you EI benefits was an injustice that must be rectified no matter what? That’s a decision that only you can make.