What Is A Fair Hearing?
A Fair Hearing is where you can contest a decision made by the Department of Social Services (DSS) that you don’t agree with. Fair Hearings are run by the New York State Department of Social Services, therefore the local DSS office that made the first decision on your case will not be making the Fair Hearing decision.
How Do I Know When I Need A Fair Hearing?
The most common reasons to request a Fair Hearing are when DSS sends you a notice that it is reducing or cutting off your cash grant, food stamps or Medicaid, and you disagree with the decision. You may also request a Hearing if you have applied for and been denied any benefit or service, or were asked to withdraw your application for benefits. There are other times when you may want to request a Fair Hearing such as when:
- you do not receive a decision on your eligibility within thirty days from the date you applied,
- you have been determined employable by DSS and you feel that you are not,
- you do not agree with an employment plan, or
- you feel you are entitled to more benefits than you are receiving.
You have sixty days from the date of the action being taken to request a Hearing for cash assistance or Medicaid, and ninety days for food stamps.
How Do I Request A Fair Hearing?
In most cases you will receive a notice that DSS is taking a negative action on your case. If you do not agree with the action, request the Hearing immediately. Do this by calling the New York State Department of Social Services Fair Hearing Office at 474-8781 or, if you are long distance from Albany, 1-800-342-3715. The Fair Hearing phone line is often busy, so keep trying. When you get through, if you are put on hold, remain on the line. An operator will pick up eventually.
Have your notice handy so you can refer to it when explaining the problem. You will need to give your
♦ phone number,
♦ Social Security number,
♦ Public Assistance case number,
♦ date of birth,
♦ details of the problem, and
♦ why you disagree with DSS.
You may not receive a notice but learn that DSS has taken a negative action. If that happens, call the above Hearing number and explain that you did not receive a notice. Explain the problem, how you found out about it, and why you do not agree with the action being taken. Include as much of the above information as you can. You may also request a Hearing by writing to the New York State Department of Social Services, Office of Fair Hearings, 40 North Pearl Street, Albany, New York, 12207.You should include as much of the above information as you can. You will receive a notice in the mail telling you when and where the Hearing will be held. The Hearing will be scheduled about three weeks from the date of your request.
What Is Aid Continuing?
Aid Continuing means that the assistance you are receiving will continue until a Fair Hearing decision is reached. You will receive Aid Continuing if you request the Hearing before the effective date of the action. The effective date of the action, usually ten days from the date the notice was sent, will be written on your notice. If you did not receive a notice, and your benefits are being cut off or reduced, request the Hearing and explain that you did not receive a notice but would like to receive Aid Continuing. If the Fair Hearing office does not grant Aid Continuing, explain this to the Judge at your Hearing so that a correction can be made, if required. You will not receive Aid Continuing if you were not receiving benefits prior to your request for a Hearing, or if you request the Hearing after the effective date of the action being taken.
If you receive Aid Continuing and you lose at your Hearing, the Aid Continuing Assistance you received may be considered an overpayment which will be recouped from your Public Assistance grant. An overpayment/recoupment usually happens when you are contesting DSS’s decision to reduce or discontinue your benefits. Therefore, you must decide at the time you request your Hearing whether you are willing to risk recoupment, should you lose the Hearing.
What If I Had An Emergency And DSS Refused To Help Me?
Make sure you have a written denial of assistance, and call the New York State Fair Hearing Office number above. Explain that you have been denied emergency assistance and read the reason you are being denied assistance from the denial notice. You will also have to provide your name, address, phone number, date of birth, and Social Security number. The New York State Fair Hearing Office will contact the local DSS office to see if the problem can be resolved without a Hearing. If this is not possible, a Hearing will be scheduled for you at the earliest possible date.
√ Everyone is entitled to a Fair Hearing.
√ Request a Fair Hearing if you disagree with a DSS decision.
√ Have all necessary information available when you call to schedule a hearing.
√ Request Aid Continuing until a Hearing decision is reached.