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Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Virtual Hearings Guide

Learn how to participate in a Department of Unemployment Assistance (DUA) virtual hearing for your Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) appeal.

The Department of Unemployment Assistance (DUA) offers virtual hearings for some Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) appeals. Virtual hearings enable claimants, attorneys/representatives, and witnesses to attend hearings online using their personal computer or smartphone. PUA claimants eligible for a virtual hearing will receive an official PUA Notice of Hearing - Virtual and Virtual Hearing Confirmation Email from the Department of Unemployment Assistance containing the details of their appeal along with instructions on how to join their virtual hearing. Additional instructions and information on virtual hearings can be found on this web page.

To participate in your virtual hearing as a claimant, you must:

  1. Have received an official PUA Notice of Hearing – Virtual and Virtual Hearing Confirmation Email
  2. Prepare and test your system at least 48 hours prior to your virtual hearing 
  3. Read the instructions contained here and in your PUA Notice of Hearing - Virtual 

Table of Contents

Virtual Hearing notices

PUA Notice of Hearing - Virtual

The PUA Notice of Hearing - Virtual will be made available to you in your PUA account and sent either by U.S. mail or email depending on the communication preferences you have set up in your account.

The PUA Notice of Hearing - Virtual contains the following key information:

  1. Date and Time of your hearing – be sure to join 5-10 minutes before the scheduled time.
  2. Issue type and Issue to be Heard – The classification of the issue impacting your PUA claim.
  3. Citation of Law – Text of the Massachusetts General Law(s) relevant to the issue to be heard.
  4. Claim ID Number – Serial number identifying your PUA claim account.
  5. Issue ID Number – Serial number identifying the specific issue on your account that the hearing will address.
  6. Letter ID Number – Serial number identifying the PUA Notice of Hearing - Virtual Letter.
  7. Issue Date – Date when the issue in your PUA claim was discovered.
  8. Determination Date – Date when the Department of Unemployment Assistance made the decision on the issue to be heard.
  9. Virtual hearing instructions – At the end of the PUA Notice of Hearing – Virtual, you will find an addendum of instructions on preparing for and joining your virtual hearing (similar to what you will find on this webpage).
virtual hearing notice
virtual hearing notice

Virtual Hearing Confirmation Email 

The Virtual Hearing confirmation email will be sent from noreply@mass.gov to the email address associated with your PUA account. It contains the following key information:

  1. Date and Time of your hearing – Be sure to join 5-10 minutes before the scheduled time.
  2. Hearing ID Number – Serial number identifying your hearing (you can enter this at the Virtual Hearing Center to join your virtual hearing).
  3. Hearing Access link – Direct link to join your virtual hearing (clicking this removes the need to enter your Hearing ID Number at the Virtual Hearing Center.

*Your Hearing ID Number and/or Hearing Access Link should only be shared with those you intend to join your hearing (e.g., witness(es) or legal representation, should you choose to include them).

virtual hearing notice comfirmation

If you have received a PUA Notice of Hearing - Virtual but not the Virtual Hearing Confirmation email, please complete the following steps:

  1. Search your email inbox and trash folders for messages sent by noreply@mass.gov
  2. Search your junk or spam folders for messages sent by noreply@mass.gov
  3. If you are still not finding your confirmation email, please call the hearings department at the phone number listed on your PUA Notice of Hearing - Virtual 

Additional Resources

Preparing and Testing Your System

System Requirements

To attend your virtual hearing, you must:

  • Have a personal computer or smartphone with a camera that supports video chatting
  • Have a reliable, stable Internet connection (at least 1-1.5 megabits per second is recommended)
  • Use a supported internet browser:
  • Disable the sleep/standby mode on your computer or smartphone:
    • Sleep/standby mode can usually be found in the device settings
    • Do NOT set your phone to "Do not disturb” or use similar features in an internet browser

Testing Your System

Please complete the following three steps at least 48 hours before your scheduled hearing to prepare and test your system. If you encounter any issues, please call the hearings department at the phone number listed on your Virtual Hearing Notice.

1. Confirm that you are able to navigate to and open the Virtual Hearings Center (you will not be able to check-in yet if doing this 48 hours before your hearing).

  • Make sure you are using the latest MS Edge, Chrome, Firefox, or Safari internet browser (Internet Explorer is not supported)
  • You can check-in for your hearing up to 15 minutes prior to the scheduled hearing time. If you try to join more than 15 minutes in advance, you will receive an error message saying: “You may only check in 15 minutes before the scheduled hearing time.”
virtual hearing test step 1

 

2. The Department of Unemployment Virtual Hearing Center uses Cisco WebEx to hold virtual hearings. You will need to download the free Cisco WebEx Meetings application prior to your hearing date on the device you intend to use:

virtual hearing test step 2

 

3. Once you have the WebEx Meetings application downloaded, confirm that you are able to join a virtual meeting using the WebEx Test Meeting.

virtual hearing test step 3

Attending Your Virtual Hearing – Claimants

To participate in your virtual hearing as a Claimant, please follow the steps below.

If you intended to bring a Witness or Representation, please also read the instructions in these sections. You must notify the Department of Unemployment Assistance if you intend to bring Representation. To do this, call the Hearings Department at the phone number listed on your PUA Notice of Hearing – Virtual.

1. Please log in 5-10 minutes before your scheduled hearing time. To do so, click on the link provided in the hearing confirmation email sent from noreply@mass.gov. You can also go to the Virtual Hearing Center and enter your Hearing ID number.

  • On whatever device you are joining with, make sure that you have downloaded the free Cisco WebEx application.
  • Ensure you are in a quiet place that will be free from distractions during your hearing – although virtual, the hearing is still a formal legal procedure.
virtual hearing claimant step 1

2. Read through the DUA Virtual Hearings terms and conditions and click on “Accept” at the bottom to proceed.

virtual hearing claimant step 2

 

3. You will then select your role for the hearing – as the claimant, please select “I’m a Claimant”.

virtual hearing claimant step 3

 

4. This will bring you to the virtual waiting room, where you will see a message that your hearing will start shortly.

  • Click to allow notifications – this will make sure you are notified when your hearing begins
  • Make sure your status is set to “Available” so that you can be called into the hearing
virtual hearing claimant step 4a
virtual hearing claimant step 4b

5. At the time of your hearing, the review examiner will initiate the hearing, and you will see a popup notification prompting you to join the hearing – click on the green “Enter Hearing” button to join the hearing.

virtual hearing claimant step 5

6. This will launch a new window in WebEx, and you will be presented with options for connecting your audio and video. You will then click “Join” to enter the hearing.  Please note that both an audio and video connection are required for virtual hearing, so make sure these are turned on.

virtual hearing claimant step 6

 

7. Once you have joined the virtual hearing, you should be able to see and hear the review examiner, and they will be able to see and hear you. The review examiner will then start the proceedings.

virtual hearing claimant step 7

 

8. When your hearing completes, please make sure to exit out of all WebEx and internet browser windows that you have used for the hearing.

virtual hearing claimant step 8a

 

virtual hearing claimant step 8b

 

virtual hearing claimant step 8c

Attending Your Virtual Hearing – Witnesses

If you are a witness who has agreed to testify on a claimant’s behalf, please make sure the claimant has shared with you their Hearing ID number included in their Virtual Hearing Confirmation email.

At least 48 hours before the hearing, complete the “Preparing and testing your system” steps listed above on this webpage.

To participate in the virtual hearing as a Witness, please follow these steps:

1. Please log in 5-10 minutes before the scheduled hearing time. To do so, go to the Virtual Hearing Center and enter the Hearing ID number that the Claimant has provided you with.

  • On whatever device you are joining with, make sure that you have downloaded the free Cisco WebEx application.
  • Ensure you are in a quiet place that will be free from distractions during your hearing – although virtual, the hearing is still a formal legal procedure.
virtual hearing witness step 1

 

2. Read through the DUA Virtual Hearings terms and conditions and click on “Accept” at the bottom to proceed.

virtual hearing witness step 2

 

3. You will then select your role for the hearing – as a Witness, please select “I’m a Witness or other participant”.

  • You will be prompted to enter your first name, last name, and email to join the hearing (for identification purposes).
virtual hearing witness step 3a

 

virtual hearing witness step 3b

4. This will bring you to the virtual waiting room, where you will see a message that the hearing will start shortly.

  • Click to allow notifications – this will make sure you are notified when your hearing begins
  • Make sure your status is set to “Available” so that you can be called into the hearing
virtual hearing witness step 4a

 

virtual hearing witness step 4b

 

5. At the time of the hearing, the review examiner will initiate the hearing, and you will see a popup notification prompting you to join the hearing – click on the green “Enter Hearing” button to join the hearing.

virtual hearing witness step 5

6. This will launch a new window in WebEx, and you will be presented with options for connecting your audio and video. Please note that both an audio and video connection are required for virtual hearings, so make sure these are turned on. You will then click “Join” to enter the hearing.

virtual hearing witness step 6

 

7. Once you have joined the virtual hearing, you should be able to see and hear the review examiner and claimant, and they will be able to see and hear you. The review examiner will then start the proceedings.

  • If Witness sequestration is required, you will be placed either in a breakout room or the waiting room until the review examiner is ready for you to provide your testimony.
virtual hearing witness step 7

 

8. When the hearing completes, please make sure to exit out of all WebEx and internet browser windows that you have used for the hearing.

virtual hearing witness step 8a

 

virtual hearing witness step 8b
virtual hearing witness step 8c

 

Attending Your Virtual Hearing – Attorneys & Representatives

If you have an attorney or a representative who will be participating in the virtual hearing on your behalf, please call the Hearings Department at the number listed on your PUA Notice of Hearing - Virtual as soon as possible to get them registered.

At least 48 hours before the hearing, complete the “Preparing and testing your system” steps listed above on this webpage.

To participate in the virtual hearing as an Attorney or Representative, please follow these steps:

1. Please log in 5-10 minutes before the scheduled hearing time. To do so, go to the Virtual Hearing Center and enter the Hearing ID number that the Claimant has provided you with.

virtual hearing rep step 1

 

2. Read through the DUA Virtual Hearings terms and conditions and click on “Accept” at the bottom to proceed.

virtual hearing rep step 2

 

3. You will then select your role for the hearing – as an Attorney or Representative, please select “I’m an Attorney/Representative”.

  • You will be prompted to enter your first name, last name, and email to join the hearing (for identification purposes).
virtual hearing rep step 3a

 

virtual hearing rep step 3b

4. This will bring you to the virtual waiting room, where you will see a message that the hearing will start shortly.

  • Click to allow notifications – this will make sure you are notified when your hearing begins
  • Make sure your status is set to “Available” so that you can be called into the hearing
virtual hearing rep step 4a

 

virtual hearing rep step 4b

 

5. At the time of the hearing, the review examiner will initiate the hearing, and you will see a popup notification prompting you to join the hearing – click on the green “Enter Hearing” button to join the hearing.

virtual hearing rep step 5

6. This will launch a new window in WebEx, and you will be presented with options for connecting your audio and video. Please note that both an audio and video connection are required for virtual hearings, so make sure these are turned on. You will then click “Join Meeting” to enter the hearing.

virtual hearing rep step 6

 

7. Once you have joined the virtual hearing, you should be able to see and hear the review examiner and claimant, and they will be able to see and hear you. The review examiner will then start the proceedings.

virtual hearing rep step 7

 

8. When the hearing completes, please make sure to exit out of all WebEx and internet browser windows that you have used for the hearing.

virtual hearing rep step 8a

 

virtual hearing rep step 8b
virtual hearing rep step 8c

 

Help and Support

The Cisco WebEx Help Center has how-to articles and videos available to support your use of WebEx Meetings. There is also a selection of common help topics included further down on this webpage.

If you are experiencing issues when preparing for or while trying to join your virtual hearing that impact your ability to join your hearing, please use the contact information listed on your PUA Notice of Hearing - Virtual to contact the Department of Unemployment Hearings Department for support as soon as possible.

Downloading WebEx

Personal Computer

The screenshots below walk you through the steps to download the WebEx Meetings application for a personal computer with a Windows operating system. The steps are similar for other types of operating systems – just make sure you have selected the correct one for your device.

virtual hearing pc1

 

virtual hearing pc2

 

virtual hearing pc3

 

virtual hearing pc4

 

virtual hearing pc5

 

virtual hearing pc6

 

virtual hearing pc6

 

virtual hearing pc8

 

virtual hearing pc8

 

Smartphone

The screenshots below walk you through the steps to download the WebEx Meetings application for an Apple iPhone. The steps are similar for other types of smartphone – just make sure you are using the correct app store for your device.

virtual hearing phone1

 

virtual hearing phone2

 

virtual hearing phone3

Configuring Audio and Video on WebEx

All virtual hearing participants are required to use both audio and video during the virtual hearing. The instructions below provide additional detail on setting up audio and video connects and further support (including smartphone instructions) can be found on the WebEx Help Center.

Using your personal computer or smartphone’s default video, audio, and microphone settings is usually the easiest way to join a WebEx video conference. Attempting to connect external devices like headphones may cause disruptions.

Please be sure to test your audio and video well in advance of your hearing (48 hours is recommended) to ensure everything is working by using the WebEx Test

Audio

All virtual hearings require connecting audio. The screenshots below show common steps for configuring and testing audio (speakers and microphone) when joining a WebEx meeting. 

Further support (including smartphone instructions) can be found on the WebEx Help Center.

virtual hearing audio1

 

virtual hearing audio2

 

virtual hearing audio3

 

virtual hearing audio4

 

virtual hearing audio5

 

virtual hearing audio6

 

Video

All virtual hearings require connecting by video. The screenshots below show common steps for configuring and testing video when joining a WebEx meeting.

Further support (including smartphone instructions) can be found on the WebEx Help Center.

virtual hearing video1

 

virtual hearing video2
virtual hearing video3

 

Submitting and Sharing Documents

Submit Documents on Your PUA Account Before the Hearing

The Department of Unemployment Assistance will provide the agency documents to all parties in an appeal packet before the hearing, either electronically or by U.S. mail based on the preferred method you selected to receive DUA correspondence.

If you have documents other than those included in the appeal packet that you want to have considered, you MUST provide copies before the hearing. The quickest way to do this is to upload them to your online PUA account:

  1. Go to https://ui-cares-act.mass.gov/PUA/ and log in to your account.
  2. Click the More tab, and then click the Upload Additional Documents for Hearing hyperlink.
  3. Please follow the provided instructions for uploading documents. Make sure to click the Submit button when you are done.

If you are unable to submit your documents online, you must submit them by mail to the Regional Hearing Office address listed on your PUA Notice of Hearing – Virtual. If you are mailing document copies, please send these as soon as possible to avoid any delays in the Department of Unemployment Assistance receiving the materials.

If you plan to use audio or video exhibits, please notify the Hearings Department at the telephone number listed on the PUA Notice of Hearing - Virtual as soon as possible.

Joining by Smartphone

  • You will need to download and install the WebEx Meetings application on your smartphone before your hearing. It is available for free download from Cisco WebEx.
  • You will still join your hearing by clicking on the link in the email or going to the Virtual Hearing Center and entering your hearing ID number.
  • You will need to give permission for the WebEx application to access your phone's camera and microphone to join a hearing.
  • Rotating your smartphone to landscape mode will enlarge the videos of the other participants in your hearing.
  • You will only be able to present documents by holding them up to your camera, selecting a photo from your phone’s camera roll, or using a cloud storage application like Dropbox or Google Drive.
  • Additional instructions for using the WebEx smartphone application can be found at Cisco WebEx’s Help Center.

Other Suggestions for a Successful Virtual Hearing

  • Your Hearing ID number is not the same as your claimant number, issue number, or letter number and can only be found in the Virtual Hearing Confirmation email.
    • If you have not received your hearing confirmation email, please try searching for messages from noreply@mass.gov in your email’s inbox, trash, and junk or spam folder. If you still have not received the hearing confirmation email, please call the hearing department at the number listed on your PUA Notice of Hearing - Virtual as soon as possible.
    • Please do not share your Hearing ID number with anyone other than a witness or attorney should you plan to bring one.
  • Although it is strongly discouraged, you may use other apps or features on your phone or other tabs of your browser while waiting for a hearing to be called as long as you do not close the application completely.
    • A notification (ding sound) will alert you when it is time to join your hearing. Make sure the volume is turned up and notifications are turned on/activated to receive this notification.
    • If you accidentally navigate away from the app or window during a hearing, you will not be disconnected from the hearing. You just need to return to the waiting room screen.  
  • If your hearing needs to be recalled (re-started) by the review examiner, they will notify you, and the message "to be recalled" will be displayed in the waiting room where you will wait for the hearing to be called again.
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