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Home Self-help Library Health Care Protecting Your Rights: County Conferences and State Hearings

Protecting Your Rights: County Conferences and State HearingsPrintE-mailPDF

Source: Ohio State Legal Services Association

What if I disagree with a caseworker’s actions? If you think there has been a mistake or delay on your case, you can ask for a county conference or state hearing. If you have a problem with Ohio Works First; Prevention, Retention and Contingency (PRC), Medicaid, Child Support or Food Stamps, you have the right to ask for a state hearing.

What is a county conference? It is an informal meeting at the welfare office with you, your caseworker and the caseworker’s supervisor. At this meeting, your case will be reviewed with you. If the county agrees that a mistake has been made, it can be corrected without a state hearing. If you are not satisfied with the results of the county conference, you can still have a state hearing. You do not have to have a county conference to have a state hearing. Asking for a county conference will not delay your state hearing.

What is a state hearing? It is a formal meeting at the welfare office between you, your representative, your caseworker, and a state hearing officer from the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services. At the hearing, the person from the local agency will explain the action it has taken or wants to take on your case. You will have a chance to tell why you think it is wrong. The hearing officer will listen to you and to the local agency, and may ask questions to help bring out all the facts. The hearing officer will review the facts presented at the hearing and recommend a decision based on whether or not the rules were correctly followed in your case.

When may I ask for a state hearing? You have the right to have a hearing when the welfare office does something you think is wrong or not acted on your case. This is true whether you are getting aid or if you have just applied for aid. It is true for all assistance programs. You only have 90 days from the date on your notice to request a hearing.

If you ask for state hearing within 15 days after the date on the notice, your benefits will continue unchanged. If you lose, you may have to repay the continued benefits.

How do I ask for a county conference or a state hearing? Mail in the hearing request form that came with your notice or contact the local welfare office. To request a state hearing, you can also call (866-635-3748, ext. 1), fax (614-728-9574), email ( This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ) or write the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, State Hearings Unit, P.O. Box 182825, Columbus OH, 43218-2825. It is best to put your state hearing request in writing.

Preparing for the hearing You have the right to:

· Read your case file and get free copies of documents that you might need;

· Read the rule books used by the welfare office;

· Have a friend, relative or Legal Aid represent you at the hearing;

· Ask for and bring any papers or witnesses to help you prove your case. Your witnesses may go to the hearing or write a letter for you. If they write a letter, they should sign in front of a notary public.

At the hearing The hearing will be tape recorded by the hearing officer so that the facts are taken down correctly. After the hearing decision is issued, you can get a free copy of the tape by contacting the hearings section.

The hearing officer will listen to both sides. No decision is made at the hearing. Instead the hearing officer’s written decision will be mailed to you in a few weeks. You should receive the hearing decision within 60 days of your hearing request if the hearing was only about food stamps, and within 90 days for aII other programs.

What if I lose the hearing? If you lose the state hearing, you may go to the next level of appeal, Administrative Appeal. You should have received an appeal form with your state hearing decision. Fill out the form. Write down why you think you should have won the hearing. Mail the request as instructed. The state must receive your request within 15 days after the mailing date on the state hearing decision.

What if I lose the administrative appeal? If you lose the administrative appeal, you may go to the final level, judicial review in court. Your appeal must be filed in court within 30 days after the mailing date of the administrative appeal decision.

Steps to Resolve Benefits Disputes

· Be sure to keep all appointments with your caseworker. If you can’t, let the caseworker know why before the appointment is missed. If you need to get a statement from your doctor, employer or other person, make sure you give it to your caseworker immediately. Keep copies for your records.

· When delivering documents to the welfare office, always get a receipt and keep a copy for your records. When responding to requests for verification, be sure that you understand what documents you must give your caseworker. Tell the caseworker if you need help in getting any of the documents.

· Save every letter or notice you get about your benefits. They can be helpful later.

· Call your caseworker first to discuss the problem. Call your caseworker’s supervisor if the problem is not resolved.

You have the right to:

· Apply for all assistance programs, even if you are told that you are not eligible.

· Get help in filling out applications if you need help.

· Have anything explained to you that you do not understand.

· Be treated with dignity and respect

· Receive notice of any “adverse action” that the welfare office takes including denial of your application, cutting off or reducing your benefits or requiring you to do something with which you do not agree.

· Get a receipt when you give the welfare office any papers. The receipt will prove that you gave the office the papers.

 

 

This article is meant to give you general information and not specific legal advice.
Prepared by Community Legal Aid Services, Inc. Updated April, 2012. CE-71-F221-CLAS

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