The legal system can be difficult to navigate and often expensive.
The good news is you could qualify for free legal help if you are scheduled for a hearing after being denied benefits by the Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency on your claim for jobless benefits.
Qualifying for Free Representation
If you meet the criteria, you may qualify for free representation at the hearing through the UIA’s Advocacy Program. This program provides trained professionals who are knowledgeable about the unemployment process and will prepare you for your hearing before an administrative law judge.
Administrative law judges work for the Michigan Office of Administrative Hearings and Rules and are independent of UIA, ensuring a fair hearing.
The Advocacy Program offers free information, consultation, and representation services to claimants and employers. They also provide legal guidance and help you understand the laws through your advocate.
The key benefit of the Advocacy Program is that it lets claimants know they are not alone. They have someone to help, support, and work with them throughout the process.
The Advocates in the program are independent contractors who are not part of the UIA staff. They can assist with hearings held either in person or over the telephone.
Success and Impact
Since its inception in 1991, the Advocacy Program has provided free legal aid to thousands of businesses and claimants. Close to 260,000 individuals have received professional guidance on their cases.
How the Program Works
If you receive an unfavorable redetermination from the UIA and file a timely appeal, you will receive a notice with a hearing date and time. After receiving the hearing notice, you can contact the Advocacy Program to explore their services.
The program staff will verify your hearing details, determine your eligibility, and provide information on the appeal process. They will also share fact sheets about common issues and a list of participating Advocates.
You must select an advocate at least two business days before your hearing. Ensure that the advocate is available for your scheduled date and willing to appear for you, either in person or over the phone.
Types of Cases and Consultation Services
Please note that some cases do not qualify for help through the Advocacy Program. These include labor disputes, trade readjustment allowance, interstate filed claims, state unemployment tax act or SUTA dumping, and monetary determinations, among others.
In some cases, the program may only offer consultation services and not representation at the hearing. These cases include those with admitted disqualifying acts, cases without merit, and certain other specified cases.
During a consultation, the advocate will discuss the facts and theory of the case to prepare you for the hearing.
Working Together for Success
As an advocate, my role is to assist you and ensure that we work together as a team. I provide pre-file, post-file, and briefing consultations to help you navigate the process with confidence.
Important Information and Exceptions
While the Advocacy Program is free, if an administrative law judge determines that you have committed fraud, you will be charged for the services provided by the advocate.
To find out more about the Advocacy Program, visit the Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency website. You can also contact the program staff by calling 800-638-3994 or 313-456-2314 Monday through Friday between 8 A.M and 4:30 P.M.
To learn more about the Michigan Office of Administrative Hearings and Rules, visit Michigan.gov MOAHR.