The People's Guide

35th Edition 2013-2014

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Page 65 of 71

The People's Guide 2013-2014 66 Hearings and Complaints Hearings In a fair hearing, you will have a chance to explain your case, and after hearing your side and the county office's side, an impartial judge will decide who wins. Sometimes, just requesting a hearing will resolve your problem. If a county employee tells you that you don't have a case, insist on a hearing and seek out legal advice. [See Good Advice, p. 68] If you are disabled, the Department of Public Social Services [DPSS] office, where you get your cash aid and food stamps, must help you to request a hearing and to understand your rights, so ask for help if you need it. For example, you may need help writing because you have arthritis. If you are disabled and cannot come to a hearing downtown you have a right to have a hearing in your home. However, you must request an in-home hearing and tell why you need it. Keep a copy of your hearing request. If you are treated unfairly because of a disability or health problem, send a complaint letter to the Civil Rights Division, U.S. Dept. of Justice, P.O. Box 66118, Washington DC 20035-6118. Seek advice and assistance. Talk to a legal worker or community worker about your situation. [See Good Advice, p. 64] Keep good records and save all papers that an agency gives or mails to you. Keep a copy of any documents that you send to a county office. Get a receipt for any papers you mail or hand in to a county office. Write down the name of anyone you speak with in person or over the phone and the date and time that you talked. You have a right to see your case file and to copy anything you need in it, such as the documents you provided to the DPSS office, notices of action, requests for documents, and anything the DPSS office mailed or hand delivered to you. You have a right to see any regulations or instructions that apply to your situation. The county must follow a legally-guaranteed set of rights which apply to any of these programs. CALFRESH, MEDI-CAL, CALWORKS, AND IHSS 1. Fixing Your Problem Without A Hearing The most reliable way to fix a problem with your benefits is to ask for a hearing (see below). Below are some tips that may allow you to fix your benefits problem without going to hearing. However, please remember the following two things: (1) You only have ninety days to ask for a hearing once you receive notice of a county action and (2) None of the steps below are the same as actually requesting a hearing, so keep an eye on your deadline and remember to request a hearing if the steps below don't fix your problem. If you are not satisfied with any decision made about your case, complain to your worker's supervisor. Besides filing for a hearing, call the district HELPLine for your DPSS office (see the list of HELPLines on page 68), or walk up to the HELPLine Information Worker in the lobby of the DPSS office and ask for help. You can also call the Central HELPline at 1-877-481-1044 If this fails, ask to speak to the deputy director and, after that, the director of the DPSS office. However, you may file for a fair hearing to challenge an action (see below) at any time. If you need help, call an advocate, legal aid organization, your county supervisor, or a local legislator. If you act fast, and keep at it, you may win. 2. Asking For A Hearing You must be sent a special notice 10 days before any action is taken that will reduce or stop your benefits. The notice must explain clearly the reasons for the action and list the regulations that support this action. If you disagree with this action and you formally request a fair hearing before the date the action takes effect, then under most circumstances your aid will not be cut until the hearing (unless it ends for another reason, like your certification period ended.) If you did not appeal on time because the notice was not clear and you did not understand what action was being taken until after the action be- came effective, you can ask the judge at the hearing for your benefits to continue at the unreduced rate. You should seek help if you want to make such a claim under Welfare and Institutions Code sec- tion 10967 and want to get your benefits reinstated. If you do not ask for a fair hearing before the date the action takes place, your aid may be reduced or cut, but you still may fight the action if you ask for the hearing within 90 days of the date the notice was mailed. Save the envelope your notice came in and a copy of your fair hearing request so you will have proof that you met the required deadline. To request the fair hearing, you may fill out and return the form on the back of the notice or write a letter doing so in your own words. Send your request to: Appeals and State Hearing Section P.O. Box 18890 Los Angeles, CA 90018. Please keep a copy of your hearing request and, if possible, mail the request with a postal tracking number so you can prove that your hearing request was received on time. You can also request a hearing by calling the toll-free number set up for this purpose, (800) 952-5253. You should call early: they open at 7:30 AM. The line is often busy, so keep trying. Remember to take the name of the person you spoke with. You cannot make a hearing request with your worker or any other County staff. You must either call the 800 number or send the written request to the Appeals and State Hearing Section P.O. Box. But if you do mistakenly request a hearing from your worker or local county staff, they are bound to forward your hearing request to the right place. Even if you made your hearing request to the wrong place like the county offices, if you did it on time, you are still entitled for your aid to continue at the old rate until the hearing. The state will send you a notice with the date, time, and place of your hearing. Usually, this happens within 3 or 4 weeks. Currently, in the CalFresh program, any If your benefits have been denied or cut unfairly, you should fight it! Don't be intimidated. Request a fair hearing immediately whenever your rights are threat- ened. Don't forget deadlines. Remember you only have ninety days to appeal a denial or cut of a county program such as CalWORKS and CalFRESH. However, if the county fails to send out a notice, or the notice is inadequate the ninety days to appeal do not begin to run out.

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