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What Happens at A Fair Hearing

GBU Fact Sheet #3

Notice of Fair Hearing:

After you request a Fair Hearing, you will receive an acknowledgment of your request in the mail. This notice will tell you whether or not you will get aid continuing.

At least 10 days before your hearing, you will receive a “Notice of Fair Hearing.” This paper will tell you the date, time and place of your Hearing.

How To Prepare For The Fair Hearing:

Think about what you need to say or show to the Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) to win your case and what you think the City will try to say against you.

Figure out what documents you will need and what witnesses you should bring with you to the Fair Hearing.

You have the legal right to see your case record before the hearing. You can do this by making an appointment at your welfare center (or, for work related hearings, at the Office of Employment Services or at your BEGIN center). You should examine your case record to know what evidence the City will use against you.

You also have the right to free copies of the documents the City will use at the hearing. You can request these documents by contacting the HRA’s office for Fair Hearing Representation at:
NYC Human Resources Administration
Fair Hearing Representation
14 Boerum Place, 6th Floor
Brooklyn, NY 11201
phone: (718) 722 5012
fax: (718) 722-5018

You should make your request in writing, by mail or fax. When you make your request, you should include your name, address, case number, fair hearing number, and the date of your fair hearing. Keep proof of your request for the City’s evidence. If you request these documents but the City does not send them to you, tell the ALJ when your hearing starts. Show the ALJ your proof that you requested the City’s evidence.

Who Will Be At The Fair Hearing?

You, a representative for the City and the ALJ will be at the Hearing.

You will be there to represent yourself. You may have a lawyer or advocate represent you, but most people are not represented at Fair Hearings. There will also be a representative for the City, who will try to show that the City was right. The ALJ represents the State, which decides who is right.

What Happens At The Fair Hearing?

The ALJ starts the hearing by summarizing what s/he thinks the issues of the Hearing are and explaining the hearing process. The City=s representative then states the City’s position. Then you tell your side of the story. Hearings are tape recorded.

What Are Your Rights At The Fair Hearing?

  • You have the right to tell your side of the story, to show your documents and to bring witnesses that you think will help your case.
  • You have the right to see the City’s evidence and to question or challenge the City’s testimony and documents.
  • You have the right to be reimbursed for transportation, child care and other expenses to allow you to go to the hearing.
  • You have the right to an interpreter at no charge if you do not speak English or if you are deaf.

How To Represent Yourself At Your Fair Hearing:

Ask the ALJ to review any notice the City has sent you. The ALJ must review all notices to ensure they are legal. Tell the ALJ if you did not receive a notice.

The City representative will introduce documents to show they are right. Make sure you get a chance to read over the City=s evidence and ask questions. Point out anything you think is wrong in the documents.

You may be questioned by the City representative or the ALJ. Listen to the question, answer briefly, and do not volunteer information not asked for.

State your “objection” when the City representative tries to guess what happened when s/he wasn’t there. Object again if the City’s testimony has nothing to do with the subject of the Hearing.

If you need more time to gather documents or bring witnesses to the Fair Hearing, ask the ALJ for an adjournment.

Issues to be raised at the beginning of the Fair Hearing:

  • The Notice of Intent is inadequate (no specific reason for action)
  • The Notice of Intent is untimely (not mailed 10 days before the effective date)
  • The City did not bring your case record to the hearing
  • The City did not show you the case record or send you copies of documents you asked for.

The Decision:

The ALJ will not make a decision at the Fair Hearing. You will receive a copy of the decision by mail.

The State must issue a decision and the City must comply with that decision within 90 days of your request for a Fair Hearing (60 days for Food Stamps issues). The time period is extended if there are any adjournments.

If the State has not made a decision and it has been more than 60 days since you requested your Fair Hearing, write or call:
Office of Fair Hearings
Decision Unit
P.O. Box 1930
Albany, New York 12201-1930
(800) 342-3334

If You Win

If you win the Fair Hearing, take a copy of the decision to the Fair Hearing Unit of your Welfare Center.

If the Center does nothing, you can write to the State to get the Center to comply with the decision:
Office of Fair Hearings
Compliance Unit
P.O. Box 1930
Albany, NY 12201
(800) 342-3334

If You Lose

If you lose the Fair Hearing, the only way to change the decision is to appeal in court. The court case must be started within 4 months of the date of the decision. You will need help from a lawyer to appeal.

Reopened Hearing

If you do not think you had a chance to give the ALJ all the evidence you had, to tell your whole side, or you think you could have gotten more evidence if the ALJ had adjourned your hearing, you can ask the State to reopen your hearing. Write a letter to:
Russell J. Hanks
Deputy General Counsel
Office of Fair Hearings
P. O. Box 1930
Albany, NY 12201-1930
(800) 342-3334

Explain in your letter how you think you were not given an opportunity to present your evidence. Include a copy of any evidence you have that shows you are right.

This article was posted December 03, 2007