Friday, March 23, 2018

UC - late appeal - failure to report change of address

Duhigg v. UCBR – Cmwlth. Court – December 13, 2017


Held:  Claimant’s appeal rejected due to untimeliness, resulting from “her own failure to notify the Department of her changed address” and, hence, her lack of notice of the determinations.

From the opinion:

Mandatory time-limit on appeal period
Unless the claimant or last employer or base-year employer of the claimant files an appeal with the board, from the determination contained in any notice required to be furnished by the department under section five hundred and one (a), (c) and (d), within fifteen calendar days after such notice was delivered to him personally, or was mailed to his last known post office address, and applies for a hearing, such determination of the department, with respect to the particular facts set forth in such notice, shall be final and compensation shall be paid or denied in accordance therewith. 43 P.S. §821(e).
“This fifteen-day time limit is mandatory; if an appeal is not timely filed within the specified time period, the determination becomes final, and the Board does not have the requisite jurisdiction to consider the matter.” McClean v. UCBR, 908 A.2d 956, 959 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2006) (citation and internal quotation marks omitted).

In certain instances, this limitation can be waived if a claimant “presents adequate excuse for his delay; however, the claimant carries a heavy burden in such cases and is required to prove more than mere hardship . . . .” Staten v. UCBR, 488 A.2d 1207, 1209 (Pa. Cmwlth. 1985). If the claimant meets that burden, a nunc pro tunc appeal may be allowed if there are “extraordinary circumstances involving fraud or some breakdown in the administrative process caused by the delay in filing.” McClean, 908 A.2d 959. Our Supreme Court has explained that an administrative breakdown occurs “where an administrative board or body is negligent, acts improperly or unintentionally misleads a party.” Union Electric Corp. v. Board of Property Assessment, 746 A.2d 581, 584 (Pa. 2000). 

Presumption of receipt of notices
“Notices . . . to unemployment claimants which state the last day to file an appeal therefrom and which are properly addressed and not returned by the postal authorities are presumed to be received, and a claimant's appeal which is not filed within fifteen calendar days after notice of the action was mailed to a claimant's last known address is not timely filed. Without proof of fraud or its equivalent, there is a presumption of regularity of the acts of public officials such as unemployment compensation authorities. Because appeal provisions of [the] Law are mandatory, claimants carry a heavy burden to justify untimely appeals and, absent proof of fraud, cannot prevail. Something more than mere hardship is necessary to justify an extension of time, or its equivalent allowance of the act nunc pro tunc. Exceptions have been recognized, for example, where the presence of fraud or its equivalent is shown, or where a person is misled by an authorized official.”  Ferraro v. UCBR, 464 A.2d 697, 698-99 (Pa. Cwmlth. 1983).

Here, the untimeliness of Claimant’s appeal resulted from her own failure to notify the Department of her changed address.  No evidence of record exists to suggest that Claimant notified the United States Postal Service of her relocation to take advantage of its mail forwarding services. The record also fails to reveal any fraud, misrepresentation, or neglect of the Department.  Therefore, the untimeliness of Claimant’s appeal was not caused by a breakdown of the administrative process, and nunc pro tunc relief is not appropriate in this case.