The People's Guide

35th Edition 2013-2014

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67 The People's Guide 2013-2014 time before the hearing, you can request a delay ("postponement") of the hearing in order to have more time to prepare or to get an attorney or advocate. In other aid programs, or to get a second postpone- ment, you must have a very good reason ("good cause"). You will also receive the name, telephone number and address of the Appeals Hear- ing Specialist (AHS) assigned to your case. The AHS will present the county's side at the hearing. Again, if you asked for a hearing early enough, your benefits are not supposed to be cut before your hearing. This is called "Aid Paid Pending." If you were supposed to get Aid Paid Pending, and you did not, tell your AHS. He or she is supposed to help you. The AHS will also write up the county's side before the hearing in a position state- ment. You have the right to get a copy of the county's position statement. If you ask the AHS for the position statement, you may get it up to two days before the hearing. Even if you don't ask for the position statement, the AHS must have it ready on the day of the hearing for you to read. If the AHS does not have it ready for you to see before your hearing, you may ask the judge to postpone the hearing to give you more time to read the statement. This postponement does not count against you. You may have the statement of posi- tion faxed to you or go to the Appeals and State Hearings Office and pick it up. It will tell you what the county's position and evidence are before the hearing so you can prepare your case. If you are disabled, or homebound, hear- ings can be held by phone, at the county office or in your home, but you must ask for this in your hearing request. If you forget to request it on the hearing request, send a letter to the same P.O. Box address where you sent your hearing request as soon as possible. You must also be provided with an inter- preter for the hearing, at no cost, if English is not your first language or if you have a disability, such as a hearing impairment, that limits your ability to communicate with others. After your hearing, call the toll-free number and complain if the state takes longer than 60 days to give you a decision about Cal- Fresh, or 90 days if the hearing was about CalWORKs or Medi-Cal. These are usually the maximum amounts of time that are permitted to decide such cases (starting on the date of your request for hearing). If your hearing decision takes longer than 90 days and you have never continued it, you must get extra money for the delay, if the decision is granted in your favor. If you do not win the hearing, you can request a rehearing. You may also appeal the ALJ's decision to the Superior Court. You should contact a lawyer experienced in this area to file such an appeal. You have one year from the date of the decision to file a case in court. SOCIAL SECURITY, MEDICARE, AND SSI The Social Security Administration must mail you a notice before they make any changes to your benefits. If you disagree with the proposed action, request a "Re- consideration" immediately by going to the Social Security office and filling out a "Request for Reconsideration" form. Make sure that you get a copy of the form stamped by Social Security with the date it was filed. You may also download the form from Social Security's website ssa. gov and mailing in the form to your local Social Security office with a postal tracking number to prove when you mailed it. Make sure you check the box for an informal conference. If you do not check this box, you will just get a review of the paper work and the decision is not likely to change. The county DPSS will help with recon- siderations and appeals if you are a GR recipient attempting to get on to SSI or Social Security. If you request a Reconsideration within the time period given on the notice (usually 10 days but sometimes 30 days for an overpayment), your benefits can continue unchanged until you receive a reconsidera- tion decision. If Social Security paid you too much, and they want to take money out of your benefits check, you can request a waiver if it wasn't your fault and it would be hard for you to pay the money back. You can get the waiver form from your local Social Security office or online from ssa. gov. If you owe the money, you can also request that the money be collected back at a lower rate per month. In SSDI cases, you must fill out a separate form asking for your aid to continue. If you miss the deadline given in the notice, the aid will be cut or reduced, but you still have 60 days from the date you received the notice to request a Reconsideration. After 60 days, if you have "Good Cause" for missing the deadline, you may be allowed to file a Reconsideration. If you win the Reconsideration, your lost benefits will be paid back to you. There are three types of Reconsideration: case review, informal, or formal conference. It is best to ask for an informal conference. However, if your application for SSDI or SSI is denied for medical reasons, you can usually only get a case review. Some SSA offices require that you file for a hearing with a judge to appeal any decision related to disability. Check with your local SSA office before appealing. If your reconsideration or waiver is denied, you may request a hearing before an Ad- ministrative Law Judge (ALJ) with the Of- fice of Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR). You have to request a hearing within 60 days of receiving an unfavorable reconsideration decision. You can request a hearing after 60 days if you have good cause. At the hearing you may appear in person, submit new evidence, examine the evidence used in making the determina- tion or decision under review, and present and question witnesses. You should always review your hearing office file well before your hearing date because you may need time to obtain additional evidence. This is particularly true if it is a hearing where your disability is at issue. The ALJ who holds the hearing may ask you questions. He or she will write a decision based on the hearing record. If you waive your right to appear at the hearing, the ALJ will make a decision based on the evidence that is already in the file. It is never a good idea to let the judge make a decision without hearing from you particularly if the issue is whether you are disabled. When you are receiving SSI or SSDI and then start working, your benefits could be cut if you are working and earning too much. (This is known as "Substantial Gainful Activity" or "SGA"). Ten days after you get the tentative notice, a notice that your payments will stop will be sent to you. Request a reconsideration immediately. To protect yourself, it is best to make a new application at the same time you request a Reconsideration. As of 10/2011 SGA was $980.00 a month. If you are considering going back to work, Call Disability Rights California at (800) 776-5746 and ask for their booklet, "Disability and Work." You can get this online on the Social Security website, Hearings

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