Fair Hearings

What is a Fair Hearing?
A Fair Hearing is a process by which you as an applicant or recipient of social services can challenge certain Department of Social Services determinations, actions or failure to act in a timely fashion.

When do you have a right to request a fair hearing?
As an applicant or recipient of social services you have a right to request a fair hearing in many situations when you disagree with a decision the local Department of Social Services, (DSS), has made including when:

  • your application for social services has been denied
  • DSS has failed to determine whether or not you are eligible for program within the allotted time period
  • DSS has failed to issue were just your cash grant
  • DSS has failed to issue were just your food stamp benefit
  • DSS has failed to authorize medical care or services for you
  • your public assistance, medical assistance, food stamps, child care services or other services have been discontinued, suspended, reduced or increased

Every time DSS decides to reduce or stop a grant or denies an application, your caseworker must send you a notice. The notice must explain the reason(s) for the decision and the date it will go into effect. The notice must also state your right to a conference or Fair Hearing if you think the decision is wrong.

How do you request a Fair Hearing?
You can request a Fair Hearing by:

-Telephone @ 1 (800) 342-3334,
the line is often busy you may have to try many times to get through. Keep trying

-Fax @ 1 (518) 473-6735

-on-line @ New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance Fair Hearing website

– Mail to:
New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance
Office of Administrative Hearings
P.O. Box 1930
Albany, NY 12201

If you write, you can put the reason for requesting the hearing on the back of your notice. Keep a copy of your letter and send it by certified mail.

You must request a hearing within 60 days after the determination about public assistance or Medicaid and 90 days after the determination for Food Stamp. You should request a hearing immediately to avoid problems. If you request the hearing within 10 days, you can ask for your aid to continue until you get the hearing decision. If you lose the hearing you may have to pay back the money, but it is still a good idea to request the aid to continue.

Can you request a hearing faster in an emergency?
If you are an applicant for emergency assistance or your situation warrants faster scheduling of a fair hearing, inform the fair hearing office and request that your hearing receive priority scheduling.

How do you prepare for the hearing?
You have the right to examine the contents of your case records and all documents the Department of Social Services will use at the fair hearing. You can request to examine these records at any reasonable time before the hearing date or you may examine the records at the fair hearing. You also have a right to see a copy of your file, so it is best if you request access to your case records before the hearing.

You should bring any papers or evidence to the fair hearing (such as medical reports, letters or sworn statements) that will help to prove your case. You can also have witnesses testify at the fair hearing to help prove your case.

How should you dress and conduct yourself at the fair hearings?
You want to make a good impression that the fair hearing.

–     Be certain you and your clothing are clean.
–     Do not wear shorts.
–     Do not wear T-shirts with rude or inappropriate writing or pictures.
–     Do not use excessive amounts of perfume or cologne.
–     Be respectful to the judge, court workers and your caseworker.
–     Do not yell, curse or threatened anyone at the fair hearing.
–     Be kind, polite and calm.
–     Be certain you have someone to watch your children while you are at the fair hearing.

Where will you have to go for the hearing?
Your fair hearing will usually be held at the Department of Social Services in the county where you live. The notice of the hearing will tell you where the hearing will be held. Try to arrive at the Department of Social Services 30 minutes before the time on your notice. Be sure to go to the desk and sign in when you arrive. Usually more than one hearing is scheduled at the same time, so the earlier you get there and sign in, the earlier you are likely to have your hearing.

Who is at the hearing?
You and any of your witnesses will be sitting at a table. Your caseworker and other representatives of the Department of Social Services will be on the other side of the table. The hearing officer will be in charge. The proceedings are is tape recorded, so remember to speak clearly.

What happens at the hearing?
The hearing officer will explain how the hearing will work and what the problem is. Be ready to explain in your own words why you asked for a fair the hearing. The caseworker will tell the department social services side of the story. After the caseworker testifies you or the hearing officer can ask them questions. Next you tell your version of events which can your testimony, the testimony of your witnesses and submission of any paperwork you have brought with you. You can be questioned by the judge or a DSS worker. You have the right to be treated with dignity and respect and to have a chance to tell your story.

Can you get any help with expenses for going to the hearing?
Yes. Right after the hearing is over tell the hearing officer you need to be paid back for travel expenses and/or child care. They will tell you what to do to get assistance.

What happens after the hearing?
After the hearing the tape and all the documents are sent to Albany. You will receive a written decision in the mail. If you have not received it in about a month, you can call the Fair Hearing telephone number and ask about the decision.