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Willerton v. Unemployment Insurance Appeal Board

Superior Court of Delaware, New Castle

January 8, 2015

PHYLLIS WILLERTON, Appellant,
v.
UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE APPEAL BOARD Appellee.

Submitted: October 14, 2014

Upon Appellant's Appeal of The Unemployment Insurance Appeal Board's Decision:

Phyllis Willerton, pro se, Appellant.

Paige J. Schmittinger, Esquire, Delaware Department of Justice, Attorney for Appellee.

OPINION AND ORDER

WHARTON, J.

I. INTRODUCTION

Phyllis A. Willerton ("Appellant") filed a Notice of Appeal on February 14, 2014 requesting judicial review of the Unemployment Insurance Appeal Board's ("Board") February 4, 2014 decision affirming the Appeals Referee's decision to deny her unemployment insurance benefits for the week ending October 19, 2013. Appellant contends that the Board's decision was unjustified because she made a clerical error on her application and did not receive notice to correct the error which ultimately resulted in the Appeals Referee and the Board concluding that Appellant did not search for work during the week in question and, therefore, was ineligible to receive benefits.

In considering the appeal, the Court must determine whether the Board's decision is supported by substantial evidence and free of legal error. Upon consideration of the pleadings before the Court and the record below, the Court finds that there is substantial evidence to support the Board's ruling and the Board did not err in reaching its decision. Accordingly, the Board's decision is AFFIRMED.

II. FACTUALANDPROCEDURALCONTEXT

Appellant submitted an application to the Department of Labor Division of Unemployment Insurance ("Department") for unemployment insurance benefits for the week ending October 19, 2013. On November 4, 2013, the Department mailed a letter to Appellant's home address that stated that Appellant "did not report a work search date or reported a date that does not apply to this week" and, therefore, the application was deficient ("Deficiency Letter").[1] The Deficiency Letter warned Appellant that failure to contact the Department by November 14, 2013 regarding the application could result in denial of benefits.[2]

On November 21, 2013, via a Notice of Determination mailed to Appellant's home address, the Department notified Appellant that she was ineligible to receive benefits for the week ending October 19, 2013 because the work search date provided on the application was not for the week claimed and Appellant failed to contact the Department to rectify the deficiency.[3] Appellant appealed to a Department Appeals Referee alleging that she did not receive the Deficiency Letter in the mail.[4] Appellant also asserted that she did, in fact, seek employment during the week in question.[5]

The Appeals Referee held a hearing on December 23, 2013. At the hearing, a representative of the Department testified that Appellant's application for unemployment insurance benefits for the week ending October 19, 2013 was denied because Appellant provided a work search date of October 12, 2013 which was one day prior to the timeframe to receive benefits for that week.[6] Appellant claimed that, according to her personal records, she searched for work on October 15, 2013 and that she must have inadvertently written the wrong work search date on the application.[7] Appellant testified that she did not receive the Deficiency Letter in the mail and only became aware of the letter when it was referenced in the Notice of Determination denying her benefits.[8]

In the Appeals Referee's written decision, issued on December 24, 2013, the Referee determined that Appellant was ineligible to receive benefits for the compensable week in question pursuant to 19 Del. C. §3315(2)[9] because Appellant did not meet all of the requirements set forth by the Department. Specifically, the Referee found that the Department provided evidence that Appellant was required to provide additional information for the week in question and that Appellant had failed to do so.[10] With respect to Appellant's claim that she did not receive the Deficiency Letter in the mail, the Referee found that there was no evidence that the Department was responsible for the error.[11]

On January 2, 2014, Appellant appealed the Referee's decision to the Board on the basis that her clerical error made in the application was not grounds to deny benefits.[12] The Board considered the evidence available to the Appeals Referee, the Referee's decision and the Appellant's argument and affirmed the Referee's decision to deny benefits.[13] In its ...


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