If your Public Assistance, Food Stamps, Medicaid or other state benefits have been improperly denied, reduced, or you think that you are entitled to more benefits than you are receiving, you should request a Fair Hearing.
At a Fair Hearing you will be able to tell an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) who works for the New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA) why you think a decision about your case was wrong. A representative from the NYC Human Resources Administration (HRA) will also be there and will have a chance to explain why the HRA made that decision.
REQUESTING A FAIR HEARING
Request a fair hearing as soon as possible after receiving notice of the action that you think is wrong. If you received a written notice about the action, it should state the time limit for requesting a Fair Hearing. If you would like your benefits to continue without change until your Fair Hearing (called “aid continuing”) you must request a Fair Hearing within 10 days of the date on the notice. If you did not receive a written notice for the action you plan to challenge, request a Fair Hearing as soon as you see a problem.
HOW TO REQUEST
It is best to request a Fair Hearing in writing, either by writing a letter or using OTDA’s Fair Hearing Request Form. Make a copy of the request to for yourself before you send it and bring a copy to the hearing. Your written Fair Hearing request can be submitted as follows:
In Person: 14 Boerum Place in Brooklyn.
By Fax: 518.473.6735
By Mail: New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance
Office of Administrative Hearings
P.O. Box 1930
Albany, NY 12201-1930
If you cannot submit a written request, you can request a Fair Hearing calling 1.800.342.3334.
WHAT TO INCLUDE IN YOUR REQUEST:
- Basic Information: Your name (as used for your case), address, phone number, date of birth, social security number, case number, and the current date. If you are challenging an action about which you received written notice, include the notice number and, if possible, a copy of the notice.
- Reason for Requesting Hearing: Describe the problems with your case or actions that you think are incorrect. Be sure to list all possible problems that you may want to bring up at the hearing.
- Aid Continuing: If you would like your benefits to continue unchanged until your Fair Hearing, be sure to include a specific request for “Aid Continuing.” Remember, you must request a Fair Hearing within 10 days of the notice to get aid continuing. NOTE: If you receive aid continuing and you lose your Fair Hearing, in some circumstances HRA may require that you pay back some of the benefits you received during the aid continuing period.
- Scheduling Information: Note any days, dates, and times that you will be unavailable for a hearing.
- Special Requests: For example, requesting a home hearing if you are homebound for medical reasons or interpreter services.
After you submit your request for a Fair Hearing, you should receive an acknowledgement of your request by mail. This notice should tell you whether you will get aid continuing and should include a description of the problems that you will be bringing up at the Fair Hearing. If any of the information on this notice is incorrect, you should contact OTDA using the methods above.
At least 10 days before the date of your hearing, you should receive a Notice of Fair Hearing. This will tell you the date, time, and place of your Hearing.
PREPARING FOR YOUR FAIR HEARING
You are also entitled to free copies of any documents that HRA plans to use at the hearing (called an evidence packet). You should request your evidence packet, in writing, in as soon as possible before your hearing. You should also request that HRA bring a copy of your entire case record for you to examine at the hearing. Be sure to include your name, address, case number, fair hearing number, and the date of your hearing in the request. Make a copy of the request for yourself and bring it to the hearing.
If HRA does not send an evidence packet or bring your case record in response to your request, tell the ALJ at the beginning of your hearing and show him the copy of the request that you sent.
Think about any documents or papers that might help to support your case or show that HRA is incorrect, for example: your lease, pay stubs, doctor’s note, etc. Bring copies of these papers with you to the Fair Hearing to show the ALJ and the HRA representative.
IF YOU CAN’T MAKE IT
If you cannot make it to the Fair Hearing when it is scheduled, you should request an adjournment (meaning that your hearing will be rescheduled for a later date) as soon as possible before the date of the Fair Hearing. You will only receive an adjournment if you have good cause for not being able to attend the hearing when it is scheduled (for example, if you are too sick or you need more time to get documents). You can request an adjournment online, in person at the Fair Hearing Office in Brooklyn, by calling 1.877.209.1134 or by faxing or mailing a letter or the OTDA’s Request to Adjourn a Fair Hearing form to the OTDA address or phone number above. Be sure to explain why you need the adjournment. If you are requesting an adjournment less than a week before a scheduled Fair Hearing, you should make the request by phone or in person.
IF YOU MISSED IT
Always try to request an adjournment before the Fair Hearing. If you do not show up to your Fair Hearing, you will lose. However, you can request that the Fair Hearing be reopened and rescheduled. You must make this request within 15 days after the date of your original Fair Hearing. Your hearing will only be reopened if you had good cause for failing to attend the hearing when it was scheduled (for example, you did not receive the notice until after the hearing date).
If you have any questions and you live in New York City, please contact The Family Center’s Department of Legal Services at 212.766.4522, Ext 150.
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