Fair and Fraud Hearings Handbook

FFHH, Section 1000, Fair Hearings

Revision 14-4; Effective November 14, 2014

 

 

 

1100 Legal Base/Definitions

Revision 10-1; Effective January 15, 2010

Fair hearing activities are based on federal and state statutes, rules and regulations. Statutes provide an outline of all requirements, while the rules and regulations provide more detail on how to apply the statute.

 

1110 Federal Statutes and Regulations

Revision 10-1; Effective January 15, 2010

 

 

1120 Texas Laws

Revision 10-1; Effective January 15, 2010

 

 

1121 Financial, Medical and Social Service Assistance

Revision 10-1; Effective January 15, 2010

 

 

1130 Texas Rule and Regulation Authority

Revision 10-1; Effective January 15, 2010

 

1131 Authority and the Right to Appeal — 1 Texas Administrative Code (TAC) §357.3(a)(1)

Revision 11-4; Effective June 1, 2011

The Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) is authorized by law to adopt and implement rules to administer the programs it oversees. These uniform fair hearing rules apply to the TANF program, SNAP (formerly the Food Stamp Program), all Medicaid-funded services and all other agency programs that are required by state or federal law or rules to provide the right to a fair hearing. HHSC delegates to the Appeals Division the authority to appoint hearings officers and to hear fair hearings.

HHSC Appeals Division is responsible for publishing fair hearing rules; processing fair hearing appeal requests; conducting fair hearings and issuing decisions.

 

1140 Definitions — 1 TAC §357.1

Revision 11-4; Effective June 1, 2011

 

The following words and phrases, when used in this handbook, have the following meanings unless the context clearly indicates otherwise.

 

1200 Notice

Revision 10-1; Effective January 15, 2010

 

 

 

1210 Notice of Proposed Adverse Action — 1 TAC §357.11

 

Revision 10-1; Effective January 15, 2010

The HHS agency follows notice requirements set forth in the appropriate state or federal law or regulations for the individual program. A notice must be sent to the client when a denial or reduction in services or eligibility action is taken. The notice must advise the client of the right to a fair hearing, how to request an appeal, the right to be represented by others, including legal counsel, available legal services in the community and an explanation of the circumstances when continued benefits may be available.

 

1220 Content of Notice – 1 TAC §357.11

Revision 11-4; Effective June 1, 2011

 

According to 45 CFR §431.210, relating to notice requirements for Medicaid-funded programs, “a notice is required under §431.206(c)(2), (c)(4) and must contain:

According to 7 CFR §473.13, relating to notices required for SNAP, "The notice of adverse action shall be considered adequate if it explains in easily understandable language:

 

1230 Right to a Fair Hearing — 1 TAC §357.3(b)

Revision 11-4; Effective June 1, 2011

 

Clients of Medicaid-funded services, TANF, SNAP and other agency programs in which state or federal law or rules provide a right to a fair hearing, are entitled to appeal the following procedures:

A client may appeal more than one action at the same time, in writing or orally unless specified in program rules or notices.

Issues related to non-payment of a claim to a provider are not appealable.

When an appellant dies during the appeal process, if the legal representative of the decedent's estate does not pursue the appeal, the hearings officer may consider the appeal withdrawn.

Three limitations apply to the right to request a fair hearing.

Note: HHS agency staff may not prevent a client from filing an appeal because staff believe that the item, services or benefit is not subject to appeal. The hearings officer determines if an issue is appealable.

 

1240 Time Period for Requesting a Fair Hearing — 1 TAC §357.3(b)(2)

Revision 11-4; Effective June 1, 2011

 

The appellant has a right to file an appeal within 90 calendar days from the effective date of the action or from the notice of adverse action date, whichever is later.

Exceptions:

Note: HHS agency staff may not prevent a client from filing an appeal because staff believe that the appeal was not requested within the required number of calendar days. The hearings officer is the final authority regarding the timeliness of filed appeals and accepts appeals filed after the time limit in order to determine whether there was good cause for the delay in filing.

If a request for a hearing is not received within the required time frame and the hearings officer determines good cause was not established for the failure to file timely, the individual has forfeited the right to a fair hearing and the agency action becomes final.

 

1300 Submitting a Fair Hearing Request Summary

Revision 10-3; Effective May 21, 2010

 

 

 

1310 Forwarding the Request to the Hearing Officer — 1 TAC §357.7

Revision 10-3; Effective May 21, 2010

 

The agency must accept a request for a fair hearing for one or more actions and create an appeal in the Texas Integrated Eligibility Redesign System (TIERS) Hearings and Appeal module. The request must be entered into TIERS and sent to the Fair and Fraud Hearings section within five calendar days from the date the fair hearing was requested. This includes requests for appeals made after the 90-day time frame. Example: If the client requests an appeal on Tuesday, the fifth calendar day is Sunday. Program staff would need the appeal request no later than close of business on Friday.

 

1320 Continued Benefits — 1 TAC §357.11

Revision 10-1; Effective January 15, 2010

 

After a HHS agency program takes an action that affects a client’s benefits or services, the client is entitled to receive, under certain circumstances, continued benefits or services until a hearing decision is issued. Whether a client is entitled to continued assistance is based on requirements set forth in appropriate state or federal law or regulation of the affected program.

 

1400 Scheduling the Hearing

Revision 10-1; Effective January 15, 2010

 

 

 

1410 Notice of Fair Hearing — 1 TAC §357.15(a)

Revision 11-4; Effective June 1, 2011

 

Form H4803, Notice of Hearing, serves as a notice of the hearing and meets all requirements of state and federal law. Hearings staff send Form H4803 to the appellant to acknowledge that the request for a hearing has been received and to set a time, date and place for the hearing. Form H4803 is sent to all parties listed on Form H4800, Hearing Request Summary, at least 14 calendar days in advance of the date the hearing is to be held.

All appointment notices are generated via TIERS Hearings and Appeals Correspondence. However, notices for a pre-hearing conference may be generated in Microsoft Word and mailed manually.

A Full Hearing Packet is sent to the Appellant and Appellant Representative, which includes a copy of Form H4800, Form H4803, Form H4805, Fair Hearings Procedures, and Form H4806, Request for Another Appointment — Request to Withdraw.

A Partial Hearing Packet is sent to the witnesses, which includes Form H4800 and Form H4803.

TIERS generates an alert to the agency representative when the Managed Office Resource (MOR) search function is used to create the appeal. If MOR was not used, a packet is generated that contains Form H4803.

 

1411 Date and Location — 1 TAC §357.15(b) and §357.17(a)

Revision 12-1; Effective January 9, 2012

 

Fair hearings may be conducted either by telephone or face-to-face.

It is within the hearings officer's discretion to determine if there is a good cause for a face-to-face hearing.

Most hearings are conducted by telephone in one of two ways. Either all parties call into a toll-free number at a designated date and time or the hearings officer calls all parties at a designated date and time.

The type of hearing and how to contact the hearings officer is provided in Form H4803, Notice of Hearing.

Fair hearings are normally scheduled in the order in which requests are received by the Fair and Fraud Hearings section. The hearing may be scheduled out of order if there is documentation indicating that waiting would jeopardize the appellant’s health.

 

1420 Exception —Transient/Expedited Appeals — 1 TAC §357.17(b)

Revision 10-4; Effective July 16, 2010

 

HHSC conducts expedited appeals for situations involving transients or individuals whose health would be jeopardized by waiting.

Transient appeals are either SNAP and/or TANF appeals that are submitted by an appellant who plans to move from the jurisdiction of the hearings officer before the hearing decision normally would be issued. An example of a transient appeal is an appeal filed by a household that includes migrant farm workers. The hearing must be held and a decision made within 15 working days from the date the hearings officer receives the hearing request if:

An expedited appeal may be granted for an individual who believes and can demonstrate that a delay in a Medicaid hearing could seriously jeopardize his life or health. An expedited hearing may be requested by a Medicaid client who believes and can demonstrate that taking the time for a standard hearing could seriously jeopardize the individual’s life or health or could threaten the individual’s ability to attain, maintain or regain maximum function. This applies to appeals originating from denial or modification of a request for prior authorization.

A Medicaid client may demonstrate the urgent need for the services/benefits by providing documents to the hearings officer. The documents may include but are not limited to:

If the need for an expedited appeal is demonstrated, an expedited hearing must be held and a decision made within 15 working days from the date the hearings officer receives the hearing request, if:

If neither condition is met, the hearing will transition into a standard fair hearing time frame.

If the hearings officer schedules the hearing as an expedited appeal, but during the development of the hearing record determines that additional evidence is needed to make the decision, the hearings officer should:

 

1430 When an Attorney Is Involved

Revision 14-2; Effective August 6, 2014

 

When there are multiple attorneys involved in the hearing, the hearings officer should provide the attorneys with a letter that includes suggested hearing dates for the attorneys to agree on and a time limit for notifying the hearings officer of a mutually agreed upon date for the hearing. The letter will also clearly instruct the parties to exchange evidentiary documents and provide copies to the hearings officer by a certain date. If the attorneys cannot agree upon a date, the hearings officer will set one for them.

Attorneys must provide the evidence to the other party and the hearings officer at least 20 days before the hearing. Failure to comply may be grounds for granting a continuance or for the evidence to be excluded from the hearing.

Even after receiving an agreed upon date, the hearings officer may receive requests for continuances because the attorneys have conflicts or are trying to resolve the issue appealed. Depending on the circumstances, it may be appropriate for the hearings officer to grant these requests and provide a new letter with additional dates for the parties to agree on and a time limit for notifying the hearings officer.

When more than one continuance is requested, the hearings officer should discuss this with the hearings manager and/or the hearings administrator. Additional continuances may be granted when good cause exists.

Continuances should not, however, lead to postponing a hearing for an unreasonably long period of time.

When a nonresident, pro bono attorney represents children in Medicaid fair hearings: A pro bono attorney who is a resident of and licensed to practice law in another state, and who is not a member of the State Bar of Texas, shall comply with the requirements of Texas Government Code, Title 2, Subtitle G, Chapter 82, §82.0361, Nonresident Attorney Fee, and Rule XIX of the Rules Governing Admission to the Bar of Texas, Requirements for Participation in Texas Proceedings by a Non-Resident Attorney, before entering an appearance on behalf of a child in an appeal authorized under Texas Human Resources Code, Title 2, Subtitle C, Chapter 32, Medical Assistance Program. Rule XIX is located on the Texas Board of Law Examiners website.

 

1431 Time Frames for Processing Requests to Reopen

Revision 11-4; Effective June 1, 2011

 

After the hearing is closed, the date the appellant contacts hearings staff, either in person or in writing, is considered the request to reopen date. The hearings officer has 30 calendar days from the date of the request to reopen to determine whether or not to reopen the hearing.

If the hearings officer decides to reopen the hearing, a new decision must be issued within 60 days of the date the request to reopen was received for SNAP cases and within 90 days for all other types of cases, unless there are delays. The delays that apply to initial hearings are applicable to reopened hearings. A list of delays is in Section 1723, Delays in Issuing a Decision – 1 TAC §357.23(a)(3).

 

1440 Continuances/Postponements — 1 TAC §357.19(a)

Revision 14-2; Effective August 6, 2014

 

The hearings officer considers a request to postpone a hearing only if the appellant, his authorized representative, the agency or the Office of General Counsel attorney contacts the appropriate hearings officer before the scheduled hearing is to occur. In SNAP cases, the appellant is entitled to receive one postponement of up to 30 calendar days. In all other hearings, the hearings officer may postpone a fair hearing if the hearings officer determines that good cause exists. Except for one continuance for a SNAP appellant, a party is not entitled to a continuance. A continuance is granted at the discretion of the hearings officer for good cause. Good cause must be substantive and not for convenience. Good cause exists when there is a circumstance or excuse that is beyond the reasonable control of the parties.

The hearings officer may consider whether the appellant is receiving continued benefits in deciding whether to grant a continuance.

When the agency is represented by an attorney and the appellant is not receiving continued benefits, only one continuance may be granted for good cause. The effect of the delay on the appellant should be carefully considered.

A rescheduled appointment notice, Form H4803, Notice of Hearing, acknowledges a hearings officer's agreement to postpone and is sent to the appellant and agency.

A postponement may occur only if the hearing has not taken place and a decision has not been issued. A postponement may not be applied to an appeal that is closed.

Note: The terms continuance and postponement are used interchangeably.

Note: A request for continuance/postponement by the agency must be made within five calendar days of the date of the notice or alert.

 

1500 The Hearing

Revision 11-4; Effective June 1, 2011

 

 

 

1510 Hearings Officer's Powers and Duties – 1 TAC §357.5

Revision 11-4; Effective June 1, 2011

 

A fair hearing is conducted by an impartial hearings officer who:

The hearings officer’s supervisor may reassign the fair hearing to another officer.

 

1511 Responsibilities

Revision 11-4; Effective June 1, 2011

 

The hearings officer conducts the fair hearing as an informal proceeding, not as a formal court hearing, and is not required to follow the Texas Rules of Evidence or the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure.

 

1512 General Duties

Revision 11-4; Effective June 1, 2011

 

The hearings officer:

 

1513 Limitation of Authority of Hearings Officers

Revision 11-4; Effective June 1, 2011

 

A hearings officer does not have the authority to determine if policy is contrary to law or unconstitutional. When an appellant or his legal representative alleges a policy is contrary to law or unconstitutional, the hearings officer should state that the hearing decision will be based on program policy in effect at the time of the agency action. If a challenge is made that an action was contrary to law, or the basis for the action is unconstitutional, the hearings officer will seek a legal opinion as outlined in Section 1569, Obtaining a Legal Clarification.

 

1514 Preparing for the Hearing

Revision 11-4; Effective June 1, 2011

 

In preparing for the hearing, the hearings officer reviews the documents submitted and formulates questions to fully develop the record.

Form H4800, Hearing Request Summary, is reviewed to:

The agency notice is reviewed to verify the issue on appeal and to determine whether the notice meets the requirements set forth in the applicable authority for the program at issue.

The authority relied upon and provided by the agency in support of the agency action is reviewed.

The hearings officer reviews the evidence submitted by all parties to become familiar with the evidence as it relates to the issue on appeal, formulates questions to be answered during the hearing, and determine if additional evidence is needed to develop the record.

 

1515 Pre-hearing Conference — General

Revision 11-4; Effective June 1, 2011

 

The hearings officer may schedule a pre-hearing conference if it is necessary to resolve issues of procedure, jurisdiction or representation, or if it will expedite and simplify the hearing. A pre-hearing conference is held on overpayment claims hearings to determine if the overpayment is the result of a court order, the household received the appropriate notice to determine jurisdictional issues or if there was good cause for requesting the hearing past the filing time frame. A pre-hearing conference is appropriate when the sole issue on appeal is a change adversely affecting some or all clients.

It is not necessary to conduct a good cause hearing to determine good cause whenever it is an issue. However, if a pre-hearing conference is held to determine good cause, it must be recorded and all participants who will testify must be placed under oath. Attorneys acting in a non-legal capacity should be placed under oath when testifying. Attorneys acting in a legal capacity are not sworn in.

The results of the pre-hearing conference are addressed in the Decision and Final Order.

 

1520 Group Hearings — 1 TAC §357.17(c)

Revision 10-1; Effective January 15, 2010

 

The HHSC Appeals Division must grant a group hearing if recipients request a group hearing on a question of agency policy. In all cases except SNAP cases, the request for a group hearing must be in writing, signed by each appellant and state the common issues. Requests for group hearings in SNAP appeals may be either oral or written. An appellant may withdraw from a group hearing at any time before a final decision is issued. If an appellant wishes to withdraw, he must make the request in writing and sign it. Group hearings follow the same procedures as individual hearings.

 

1530 Attendance at Hearing — 1 TAC §357.5(2)(d)-(e), §357.25(c)(3)

Revision 11-4; Effective June 1, 2011

 

The fair hearing is not open to the public, but friends and relatives of the appellant may attend if the appellant chooses. All people attending the hearing must have an:

For an in-person (face-to-face) hearing, all parties must appear unless other arrangements are made with the hearings officer.

The hearings officer has the authority to limit the number of people attending the fair hearing if space or equipment issues make conducting an orderly hearing difficult.

The appellant may record the hearing or request a copy of the recording from the hearings officer, at no cost. The hearings officer controls the use by others of cameras, videos or other recording devices.

 

1540 Burden of Proof — 1 TAC §357.9

Revision 10-1; Effective January 15, 2010

 

The burden of proof in a fair hearing regarding a specific issue is proof by a preponderance of the evidence. The party that bears the burden of proof meets the burden if the stronger evidence, on the whole, favors that party, as determined by the hearings officer. Depending on the type of hearing, the following apply:

 

1550 Private (Ex Parte) Communication — 1 TAC §357.5(c)(1)(D)

Revision 11-4; Effective June 1, 2011

 

The hearings officer is prohibited from engaging in private (ex parte) communication, whether oral or written, with a party or the party's representative or witness relating to matters to be adjudicated in the hearing, unless both parties are notified. A decision maker is prohibited from discussing the substance of the case with one of the parties or an agent of the parties without the opposing party being present or notified of the information discussed and being given an opportunity to rebut the information. A hearings officer shouldn't discuss how he may rule or any aspect of the issues with a party unless the other party is present. Additional information submitted by either a program person or the appellant or their representative after or outside of the hearing is considered ex parte communication. If inadvertent comments are made by a party and have not been shared with the opposing party, the hearings officer can correct the problem of ex parte communication by convening the hearing with the parties present and providing complete information about the ex parte communication that occurred.

A program person, agency attorney, the appellant or the appellant's representative may contact the hearings officer to determine if a particular case has been decided or if an appeal request has been received. As long as the contact is limited to this type of question, it is not considered ex parte communication. This is considered to be procedural. A hearings officer must distinguish between procedural and ex parte communication.

Ex parte communication does not include discussion of an appeal with supervisors in the Appeals Division chain of command.

 

1560 Conducting the Hearing — 1 TAC §357.5(c)(2)(J)

Revision 11-4; Effective June 1, 2011

 

Hearings officers are responsible for regulating the conduct and course of the hearing to ensure due process and an orderly hearing. This includes:

When a participant behaves inappropriately and disrupts the hearing, the hearings officer may take action, including but not limited to:

The mute function in Avaya should only be used to control the hearing as a last resort. If used inappropriately, the parties' rights to a fair and impartial hearing could be compromised. Before activating the mute function in Avaya:

 

1561 Starting the Hearing — 1 TAC §357.5(c)(2)

Revision 14-2; Effective August 6, 2014

 

The hearing is recorded either by a tape recorder or a digital recording system.

All parties, representatives and witnesses may participate by telephone, in-person or a combination of the two.

The hearings officer will make every attempt to start the hearing on time. The hearings officer is responsible for being on time and beginning on time. If there is a delay due to the previous hearing taking longer or some other unavoidable delay, the hearings officer should ask an administrative assistant to notify the parties in the next hearing of the anticipated start time. All parties should be available at the time the hearing is scheduled to begin. For hearings held via a conference call, the hearings officer waits seven minutes from the time listed on the appointment notice to allow parties to call in to the conference call.

 

1562 During the Hearing

Revision 10-4; Effective July 16, 2010

 

 

 

1562.1 Hearings Officer’s Responsibility

Revision 10-4; Effective July 16, 2010

 

During the hearing, the hearings officer:

 

1562.2 Appellant’s Rights — 1 TAC §357.13(d)

Revision 10-4; Effective July 16, 2010

 

The appellant or his representative must have the opportunity to:

 

1562.3 Requesting a Case File — 1 TAC §357.13(b)(7)(A)

Revision 11-4; Effective June 1, 2011

 

Appellants have a right to view their case files to prepare for the hearing. Form H4805, Fair Hearing Procedures, advises the appellant of this right and to contact the hearings officer if he wishes to view the entire case file, not just the documents provided for the hearing. Form H4805 is included in the hearing packet mailed to the appellant.

If the hearings officer receives this request for an appeal related to an Office of Eligibility Services (OES) action, he will send a letter to the regional attorney and the agency representative with a copy to the hearings administrator.

If the hearings officer receives this request for any other program, he will send a letter to the agency representative and the agency representative’s supervisor with a copy to the hearings administrator. For MCO appeals, the hearings officer will send a copy of the letter to the health plan manager and Cindy Jorgensen. A list of health plan managers can be found in Appendix V, Health Plan Management.

In both instances, the hearings officer will monitor to ensure the agency responds to the request for the case file. The case file should be provided to allow enough time for the appellant to review the information before the hearing. The hearings officer may need to reschedule to provide sufficient time for the appellant to review the documents prior to the hearing.

If there is a question about confidentiality of any information within the case file, the agency representative should contact the appropriate legal division to ensure the requested information may be shared.

 

1562.4 Appellant’s Responsibilities — 1 TAC §357.13(e)

Revision 10-4; Effective July 16, 2010

 

The appellant or the appellant’s authorized representative is responsible for:

 

1562.5 Agency Responsibilities — 1 TAC §357.7

Revision 11-4; Effective June 1, 2011

 

The agency representative must appear at the scheduled hearing and be prepared to explain and defend the decision or action taken against the appellant. When the denial or modification of private duty nursing services for clients under age 21 is the issue on appeal; the medical director acts as the agency representative at the hearing.

The agency representative is also responsible for ensuring that copies of documents used to determine the agency action are provided to both the hearings officer and the appellant before the hearing.

 

1563 Short Hearings

Revision 10-1; Effective January 15, 2010

 

If the agency representative admits early in the hearing that he is unable to defend the agency action or admits that the agency action was taken in error, the hearings officer:

If all these conditions are met, the hearings officer states:

“As presiding hearings officer in this case, I have determined that the agency failed to act on appellant’s request for services appropriately. I am issuing an order to reverse the agency’s action and will instruct the agency to take action to issue benefits accordingly."

The hearings officer then issues the decision using the shortened decision format.

 

1564 Developing the Record

Revision 10-1; Effective January 15, 2010

 

 

 

1564.1 When the Agency Representative Does Not Appear for the Hearing

Revision 10-1; Effective January 15, 2010

 

If the agency representative does not appear for the hearing and does not submit written documentation, the hearings officer opens the record and states that the agency representative did not appear. The hearings officer states that the appellant is present and available either by phone or in person. The hearings officer will take no testimony. The hearings officer closes the record and issues a decision reversing the agency action. The hearing decision will instruct the agency to take the appropriate steps to implement the decision.

It the agency representative does not appear for the hearing but submits written documentation, the hearings officer opens the record and makes a statement to that effect. The hearings officer further states that, while the agency representative submitted documents, the absence of the agency representative prevents the documents from being authenticated or explained and prevents the appellant from cross-examining the agency concerning the documents. For these reasons, the documents will not be entered into evidence. The hearings officer will take no testimony. The hearings officer will close the hearing and issue a written decision reversing the agency action. The hearings officer will instruct the agency to take the appropriate action to implement the decision.

 

1564.2 When the Appellant Does Not Appear for the Hearing

Revision 11-1; Effective February 1, 2011

 

 

 

1564.2.1 Hearings Held Via a Conference Call

Revision 14-2; Effective August 6, 2014

 

If the hearing is conducted via conference call, the hearings officer will wait seven minutes from the time listed on the appointment notice to allow parties to call in to the conference call. If the appellant fails to call in at the scheduled time, the hearings officer opens the record and states that the agency representative called in, but the appellant failed to call in. The hearings officer takes no testimony, but notes the time given on the notice and the time the record is closed. The hearings officer closes the record and issues a written decision dismissing the appeal.

 

1564.2.2 Face-to-Face Hearings

Revision 14-2; Effective August 6, 2014

 

If the appellant fails to appear at the hearing, the hearings officer will wait seven minutes from the time listed on the appointment notice for all parties to appear. If the appellant fails to appear, the hearings officer opens the record and states that the agency representative appeared, but the appellant did not appear. The hearings officer takes no testimony, but notes the time given on the notice and the time the record is closed. The hearings officer closes the record and issues a written decision dismissing the appeal.

 

1565 Agency Action Notice Issues

Revision 11-4; Effective June 1, 2011

 

Whenever an adverse action is taken, programs are required to send an adequate notice to the client. Federal law sets out what is to be included in adverse action notices. If the appellant raises an issue at the hearing questioning the sufficiency of the notice, the hearings officer must address the issue at that time. The hearings officer may direct the agency to send a corrected notice, in accordance with all legal requirements. The appellant may choose to waive any notice issues and continue with the hearing.

Notices are of particular importance in nursing facility discharge hearings and in Personal Care Service hearings and adequacy of the notices must be addressed as an issue within the hearing in addition to other issues listed as the basis for the intended adverse action. In these appeals, if the notice issue is not raised by the appellant, the hearings officer must develop the record to include information to determine the legal adequacy of the notice.

 

1565.1 When Appellant Raises a Notice Issue

Revision 10-1; Effective January 15, 2010

 

If the appellant raises a notice issue, either directly or indirectly, it must be dealt with by the hearings officer on the record. The appellant has the right to receive adequate notice. However, the appellant can waive any notice issues and continue with the hearing. It is the hearings officer’s responsibility to establish if the appellant wants to waive any issues on adequate notice. If the appellant waives any notice issue, then the hearing can proceed and notice is no longer an issue.

If the hearings officer determines that the notice is not adequate and appellant does not waive his right to receive adequate notice, the hearings officer instructs the agency representative to prepare a new notice and provide it to the appellant. After the new notice is provided, the hearings officer reconvenes the hearing.

Notice issues raised and how they were resolved should be noted in the hearings officer’s decision under Procedural History.

 

1565.2 When Appellant Does Not Raise a Notice Issue

Revision 11-4; Effective June 1, 2011

 

If the appellant does not mention the adequacy of the notice he received, the hearings officer assumes the issue is waived by the appellant and proceeds with the hearing. In general, the hearings officer does not bring up the issue of adequate notice on his own, except as noted in Section 1565, Agency Action Notice Issues.

 

1566 Receipt of Program Notices

Revision 11-4; Effective June 1, 2011

 

An appellant may testify at the hearing that an appointment notice or a request for additional information was not received.

The hearings officer should address this issue by asking questions and taking testimony from both the appellant or the appellant’s representative and the agency representative. Sworn testimony from the appellant is first-person testimony. Testimony from the agency representative is usually direct testimony about normal agency procedure, but is possibly hearsay in regard to the specific piece of mail being considered.

While the agency representative may not be able to provide physical proof that the notice in question was sent, he should be able to state for the record the office mailing procedures, the date the notice was actually mailed and the address where it was mailed.

The hearings officer may ask the appellant or the appellant's representative questions about how the mail is received at the home, who actually gets the mail, whether other agency mail has been received in the past or received regularly (such as a Medicaid ID form). Testimony from a representative for the appellant may not carry the same weight as sworn testimony from the appellant. Particular attention can be given to mail from the same agency within a similar time frame that was received at the same address as the item being considered. Other issues with mail that have been reported to the Post Office due to non-receipt and corroborating testimony regarding mail issues can be given consideration.

The Hearings Section has taken the position in the past that if a letter is sent and not returned, the sender may presume the letter was received.

The hearings officer must base the decision on an evaluation of the evidence and testimony presented at the hearing. Given the presumption that a letter sent is one received, the hearings officer must determine if the appellant has presented evidence that overcomes that presumption. If sworn testimony from the appellant was heard, the decision will involve a determination of credibility. The decision should include findings of fact regarding the determinations used in reaching the decision on whether the letter was received.

 

1566.1 Testimony and Evidence

Revision 12-4; Effective October 23, 2012

 

The hearings officer ensures the appellant has an opportunity to review any evidence to be used in the hearing before the hearing. If the appellant has not had an opportunity to review the evidence, the appellant should be given the option of having the evidence read into the record or rescheduling the hearing.

If parts of the case record are used during the hearing, the appellant may see them and have them placed in evidence. In the case of an appeal involving a secondary agency, such as the Texas Workforce Commission, the secondary agency representative sends the hearings officer and appellant a copy of the secondary agency’s case file.

If no evidence is offered into evidence at the hearing or provided to either the hearings officer or the appellant before the hearing, the hearings officer should ensure that the hearing follows correct procedures and gives consideration to the rights of all parties. The hearings officer should inform the appellant of his rights when the agency fails to provide the exhibits and/or documents in advance. The hearings officer should ask the parties if they agree to allow the documents to be read into the record and then share a written copy with all parties. The appellant should have an opportunity to respond to what was read into the record.

Note: When both the appellant and the agency have an attorney, the attorneys are required to share their evidence with each other, the agency representative and the hearings officer at least 20 days before the hearing appointment date. Rebuttals or responses to such submittals may be submitted up until the 10th day before the hearing appointment date. Failure to share evidence may be grounds for a postponement at the request of the side not notified.

All exhibits provided to the hearings officer are part of the record, and the hearings officer must ensure that each one is properly labeled and clearly addressed on the record. An exhibit is not admitted into evidence until the hearings officer states "I am admitting this document as exhibit blank."

Documentary evidence provided to the hearings officer falls into several categories:

To make the organization of all records consistent, hearings officers should consult Appendix I, Fair Hearing Case Record Filing. All documents provided to the hearings officer are filed behind the appropriate tab.

 

1566.2 Exhibits Offered and Admitted

Revision 10-1; Effective January 15, 2010

 

In order for an exhibit to be admitted into evidence by the hearings officer, several activities must occur. First, the party must offer the exhibit into evidence. This may be accomplished by the party clearly stating "I want to offer this exhibit" or "I want this document or exhibit considered." It also may be accomplished by the hearings officer asking the party if he/she wants a particular document to be considered by the hearings officer.

After an exhibit is offered, the hearings officer must decide either to admit the exhibit or not. The hearings officer asks if there are any objections to the exhibit being admitted. If there are no objections and if the exhibit is relevant to the issues to be decided or if the objection is not persuasive, the hearings officer admits the exhibit. The hearings officer states: "This exhibit will be admitted as exhibit number or letter blank."

The agency representative may offer the full evidence packet as an exhibit. It is permissible for a hearings officer to admit the full packet as one exhibit. If multiple documents are submitted as one exhibit, the pages should be numbered to allow the documents to be identified as they are discussed.

 

1566.3 Exhibits Offered and Not Admitted

Revision 10-1; Effective January 15, 2010

 

If a party offers an exhibit that the hearings officer determines will not be admitted because it is not relevant to an issue on appeal, the hearings officer states this on the record. He then files the exhibit in the file under the tab marked "Exhibits Not Admitted."

 

1566.4 Exhibits Provided But Not Offered into Evidence

Revision 10-1; Effective January 15, 2010

 

Often documents may be provided to the hearings officer that the party decides not to offer into evidence. This may happen when the agency representative sends a complete case file as evidence, without first ascertaining if all documents are relevant to an issue on appeal. When asked about a particular document at the hearing, the agency representative may state that the document should not have been included in the packet, or he may indicate that the document need not be considered.

In this situation, the hearings officer makes sure the document is clearly identified, states on the record that the document was not offered into evidence and files it in the file under the tab marked "Exhibits Not Offered."

 

1566.5 Duplicates of the Same Exhibit

Revision 10-1; Effective January 15, 2010

 

There are times when duplicate copies of the same document are provided to the hearings officer. This may occur when the evidence packet is both faxed and mailed to the hearings officer. The hearings officer admits only one copy of each exhibit, clearly identifying the document on the record. The hearings officer files duplicate copies in the file folder under the tab marked "Exhibit Duplicates."

Note that there are also times when duplicate copies of the same document may be admitted. This may occur where the agency representative offers a form as one of his exhibits and the hearings officer admits it. Then, in the appellant’s packet, there is also a copy of the same form and it is offered by the appellant. While this is a duplicate of a document, it is not a duplicate of an exhibit. These are two separate and distinct exhibits and both should be identified and admitted as such.

 

1566.6 Labeling Exhibits

Revision 11-4; Effective June 1, 2011

 

There is no need for a hearings officer to distinguish between the appellant’s exhibits and the agency’s exhibits when labeling and referring to them in the decision. All documents submitted to the hearings officer are part of the hearings record; however, not all of the documents will be admitted into evidence. The hearings officer must ensure that all exhibits are clearly labeled if they are offered. If documents are not offered, the hearings officer does not have to label the document, but he does have to clearly identify each document on the record and state the documents are being annotated as not having been offered or admitted. The labeling of the exhibits must be identical to the information stated on the record as each document is identified.

 

1566.7 Handling Objections

Revision 10-1; Effective January 15, 2010

 

The formal rules of evidence do not apply to HHSC fair hearings. Most exhibits offered will be admitted, even when objections are raised.

When an exhibit is offered and there is an objection to it being admitted, the hearings officer should clarify what the objection is to the document.

Example: A party may allege that the document is not authentic or that it is not a true and correct copy of the original document.

The hearings officer may state, "I've noted your objection. I'll give the appropriate weight to this document when it is time to consider it, but I'll go ahead and admit it."

If the hearings officer refuses to admit a document for any reason, he should state the reason why he is not admitting the document into evidence.

 

1566.8 When to Admit Exhibits

Revision 10-1; Effective January 15, 2010

At the beginning of the hearing, the hearings officer must ensure that the client and the agency representative have copies of all the documents to be considered at the hearing, or that the client has waived his right to have them and is willing to proceed with the hearing. The hearings officer must address this on the record.

While there is not one "correct" time during the hearing when a hearings officer must discuss exhibits and admit them, it is not appropriate to allow a party or witness to talk about a document that has not been offered into the evidence. For example, if the agency representative begins discussing a document that has not been admitted, the hearings officer asks, "Do you want me to consider this document?" If the agency representative says yes, the hearings officer should then ask the appellant if he has any objection to the document being admitted as evidence. If there is no objection, the hearings officer states, "This document will be admitted as exhibit blank."

It is also appropriate to identify and admit all documents at the beginning of the hearing, as this practice may move the hearing along and minimize interruptions or confusion. It is also good practice to quickly review the exhibits at the end of the hearing to make sure all exhibits have been properly identified and handled.

 

1567 Closing the Hearing

Revision 10-1; Effective January 15, 2010

 

After all testimony is given and documents received, the hearings officer closes the hearing and explains when the hearing decision can be expected.

 

1568 Requesting Additional Documents

Revision 11-4; Effective June 1, 2011

 

The hearings officer does not have subpoena authority. The hearings officer has responsibility for appropriately developing the hearing record and may request additional witnesses and/or documentation when further clarification is needed.

If additional documents are requested or additional witnesses must be notified, the hearings officer may leave the record open. Documents are shared with all parties. Each party must be given an appropriate opportunity to review a document and evidence must be admitted and discussed on the record.

 

1569 Obtaining a Legal Clarification

Revision 11-4; Effective June 1, 2011

 

When necessary, a hearings officer may request legal clarification or opinion on the relevance or significance of policy, legal documents or other evidence being considered in the hearing, including allegations that agency policy conflicts with federal rule or law. To submit a request for legal clarification, the hearings officer discusses the issues being considered with the area manager, who forwards the request to the hearings administrator. The hearings administrator sends the request for legal clarification, if appropriate, to the Legal In-Box in Outlook under HHSC Retransplanting.

The legal clarification request and response must be shared with all parties and each side must have an opportunity to provide comment or rebuttal of the opinion. The hearings officer must reconvene the hearing to permit discussion of the clarification by all parties.

 

1570 Recessed Hearings — 1 TAC §357.19(d)

Revision 10-1; Effective January 15, 2010

 

Once a hearing begins, the hearings officer may recess the hearings proceedings if the hearings officer finds good cause for the recess. Following notice to both sides, the hearings officer may reconvene the hearing, if necessary.

 

1571 Example of a Recessed Hearing

Revision 10-4; Effective July 16, 2010

 

The appellant asks the hearings officer if he may leave the hearing open so he can obtain additional information to support his case. The hearings officer agrees to leave the record open and sets a deadline for the appellant to submit the additional information. Once that information is received, the hearings officer will ensure the agency representative receives the additional documents. Then the hearings officer schedules a date to reconvene the hearing.

The reconvened hearing will focus on the additional documentation provided by the appellant.

If no additional information is received from the appellant by the due date, the hearings officer issues a decision based on evidence provided at the hearing.

 

1580 Interpreters

Revision 10-1; Effective January 15, 2010

 

1581 Spanish/English Interpreters – 1 TAC §357.1(11) and §357.21(b)

Revision 10-1; Effective January 15, 2010

 

HHSC provides an interpreter to those applicants/clients and witnesses who have bona fide language barriers to ensure that they will be able to participant in the hearing. People with language barriers may include people who are unable to understand or communicate in English or whose ability to understand or communicate in English is limited.

A certified interpreter is one who is certified by one of the following entities:

 

1582 Other Interpreters — 1 TAC §357.21(b)

Revision 11-4; Effective June 1, 2011

 

HHSC Appeals Division makes every effort to use the most qualified interpreter for a person with limited English proficiency whose native language is not English or Spanish. The agency contracts with several interpreter services to provide language interpretation services for many different languages.

HHSC Appeals Division provides a qualified sign language interpreter for a person who is hearing impaired and requests the service. If the appellant needs a sign language interpreter for the hearing, the hearings staff will submit Form HHSC-OPS004, HHSC Request for Sign Language and Oral Interpreting Services, at least 48 hours before the appointment.

If required by the circumstances, the HHSC Appeals Division will arrange to provide other assistance in accordance with commission policy.

If an appellant wants a family member or friend to interpret, the hearings officer will explain that a trained interpreter is needed to provide interpretation for the hearing record to ensure accuracy, but the family member or friend may provide assistance to the appellant as needed, and may assist the appellant in the presentation of his case.

 

1583 Right to Request an Interpreter — 1 TAC §357.21(a)(1)

Revision 10-1; Effective January 15, 2010

 

When an appellant requests a fair hearing, program staff create an appeal in the TIERS Hearings and Appeal module, which generates Form H4800, Hearing Request Summary. This form includes a space to indicate whether an interpreter is needed for the hearing.

Form H4805, Fair Hearing Procedures, accompanies the appointment notice and instructs the appellant to contact the hearings officer at least two business days before the hearing date if an interpreter is needed for the hearing.

The hearings officer informs the appellant on the record that he will be provided an interpreter at no cost if the appellant demonstrates that the appellant or required participants are not able to participate in the hearing because of a communication barrier.

 

1584 Determination of Necessity for Interpreter — 1 TAC §357.21(a)(1)

Revision 10-1; Effective January 15, 2010

 

The hearings officer determines on a case-by-case basis whether an interpreter is necessary.

No interpreter is required if the hearings officer determines that all participants are sufficiently able to communicate so that no barrier is present. The basis of the hearings officer’s decision will be stated on the record.

 

1585 When an Interpreter is Not Needed – 1 TAC §357.21(a)(2)

Revision 10-1; Effective January 15, 2010

 

When an interpreter has been requested, the hearings officer may decide that an interpreter is not required under the following circumstances:

The basis for the hearings officer's decision is stated on the record.

The basis for the hearings officer's decision shall be stated on the record.

 

1586 Requirements for Interpreters

Revision 10-1; Effective January 15, 2010

 

When an interpreter participates in a hearing, the interpreter must interpret in the first person and not the third person.

Interpreters must give complete and accurate interpretations and document translations without changing, omitting or adding anything to what has been spoken or written. Interpreters must not attempt to explain what is spoken or written. They are to interpret every spoken or written statement, even if it may appear to the interpreter to be non-responsive, obscene, rambling or incoherent.

The interpreter must maintain the confidentiality of client records. Information obtained during a hearing must not be disclosed outside the hearing or at a later hearing.

Interpreters must limit themselves to interpreting or translating documents and must not give advice, express opinions, explain, edit or in any way insert comments in the hearing.

An interpreter must not initiate communication unless it is necessary to seek assistance when interpreting, as when speech is not understood, speech needs to be repeated, speakers need to speak slower or clearer, or to correct an interpretation error. In these instances, the interpreter must make it clear that the communication is not an interpretation but is needed for clarification.

If an interpreter has reservations about the ability to interpret competently, the interpreter must bring it to the attention of the hearings officer. The interpreter must also tell the hearing officer if there are circumstances making it difficult to interpret, such as too much noise, more than one person speaking at the same time, or witnesses speaking too rapidly or too long.

During a long hearing, the interpreter should notify the hearings officer of any need for a break.

The interpreter must immediately inform the hearing officers of any attempt to impede, prevent or interfere with interpretation consistent with these requirements.

Interpreters must not use gestures unless they are providing sign language services.

 

1587 Procedures for Hearings Officers Related to Interpreters

Revision 10-1; Effective January 15, 2010

 

 

 

1587.1 The Role of the Interpreter

Revision 10-1; Effective January 15, 2010

 

The hearings officer must explain the role of the interpreter to all parties before the hearing. The explanation will be provided in English and the client’s first language.

The hearings officer must establish on the record that the interpreter:

 

1587.2 Interpreter Oaths or Affirmations

Revision 10-1; Effective January 15, 2010

 

The interpreter must be impartial and unbiased. If there is any conflict of interest, it should be brought to the hearings officer's attention.

The following are examples of interpreter oaths:

The interpreter must respond "I do," "I swear" or "I affirm."

 

1587.2.1 Examples of Conflicts of Interest

Revision 10-1; Effective January 15, 2010

 

The following must be brought the hearings officer’s attention if the interpreter:

 

1587.3 Curing Inaccuracies

Revision 10-1; Effective January 15, 2010

 

The hearings officer has the responsibility to remedy inaccuracies in the interpretation, if they are brought to the hearing officer's attention. The hearing officer must halt or reset the hearing if it is necessary to obtain a qualified interpreter.

 

1588 Complaints Regarding Quality of Interpretation — 1 TAC §357.21(c)

Revision 10-1; Effective January 15, 2010

 

If a party or authorized representative makes a legitimate objection concerning the quality or accuracy of the interpretation by an interpreter, the hearings officer:

 

1600 Evidence

Revision 10-1; Effective January 15, 2010

 

 

 

1610 Discovery — 1 TAC §357.13(b)(7)

Revision 10-1; Effective January 15, 2010

 

All parties in the hearing have the right to examine the documents, before the hearing, that will be considered at the hearing and used to make a decision.

Before the hearing, the agency representative sends copies of all documents to be used in the hearing to the hearing officer and the appellant. The packet includes, but is not limited to:

If the appellant or the appellant’s representative submits documents to be considered at the hearing, the hearings officer will fax them to the agency representative before the hearing.

 

1620 Written Interrogatories

Revision 10-4; Effective July 16, 2010

 

An appellant or an appellant representative or legal counsel may send written interrogatories or request a pre-hearing conference to get additional information.

The written interrogatories must:

The interrogatories may be introduced at the hearing. The hearings officer will determine if they are relevant to the issue on appeal.

The hearings officer does not have a role in the interrogatory process beyond his role in the hearing itself.

The hearings officer does not have the authority to compel either party to respond to interrogatories.

 

1630 Evidence — 1 TAC §357.5

Revision 12-5; Effective November 8, 2012

 

The hearings officer conducts the fair hearing as an informal proceeding, not as a formal court hearing, and is not required to follow the Texas Rules of Evidence or the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure.

Evidence includes any relevant documents or testimony provided by the appellant, the appellant’s witness, the agency representative or the agency witness.

Hearsay evidence may be considered by the hearings officer and given the appropriate weight. Hearsay evidence is a statement made by a third party and repeated by one of the hearing participants during the hearing.

Note: When both the appellant and the agency have an attorney, the attorneys are required to share their evidence with each other, the agency representative and the hearings officer at least 20 days before the hearing appointment date. Rebuttals or responses to such submittals may be submitted up until the 10th day before the hearing appointment date. Failure to share evidence may be grounds for a postponement at the request of the side not notified.

 

1640 Additional Medical Assessment — 1 TAC §357.5(c)(2)(L)

Revision 10-1; Effective January 15, 2010

 

If the hearing involves medical issues such as those concerning a diagnosis, an examining physician's report or a medical review team's decision, and if the hearing official considers it necessary to have a medical assessment other than that of the person involved in making the original decision, the hearings officer orders that medical assessment must be obtained at the operating agency's expense and made part of the record.

If the hearings officer requests an additional medical assessment, he will recess the hearing until the assessment is complete. Once the hearings officer receives the new medical assessment, he will mail a copy to all parties and schedule a time to reconvene the hearing. The reconvened hearing will focus on the additional medical assessment.

 

1700 Decisions

Revision 12-2; Effective January 20, 2012

 

 

 

1710 Decision Process — 1 TAC §357.5(c)(3) and §357.25(a)

Revision 11-4; Effective June 1, 2011

 

 

 

1711 Time Frames

Revision 11-4; Effective June 1, 2011

 

According to federal regulations, all appeal requests must be completed within 90-days from the request date (60 days for SNAP and Refugee Cash Assistance appeals).

The 90 calendar-day fair hearings clock (60 calendar days for SNAP and Refugee Cash Assistance) begins the day the client asks for an appeal. The hearings officer notifies the client of the date, time and place of the hearing, conducts the hearing and issues a decision. The hearings officer allows 10 calendar days for the worker (agency representative) to take action on a reversed decision on non-SNAP appeals.

Exceptions: Issuing some decisions may be delayed beyond these time periods. For example, the appellant may make one or more requests to reschedule the hearing appointment. (See Section 1723, Delays in Issuing a Decision – 1 TAC §357.23(a)(3), for appropriate processing and delay procedures.)

 

1720 Decisions

Revision 11-4; Effective June 1, 2011

 

After the hearing, the hearings officer:

The hearings officer ensures the decision is sent to the appropriate parties to permit timely implementation. The hearings officer uploads the reversed nursing facility discharge hearing decisions to the Portal. Appeals Division state office staff will forward these decisions to appropriate nursing home regulatory staff in accordance with agency regulations.

 

1721 Components of a Hearing Decision

Revision 10-1; Effective January 15, 2010

 

The hearings officer prepares a written decision that includes:

A hearings officer issues a decision based on the evidence presented at the hearing by the agency representative, the agency witnesses, the appellant and the appellant’s representative or witnesses. The decision states a determination of whether the agency followed program policy.

The decision by the hearings officer must be written in English, and HHSC provides a translated coversheet in Spanish for hearing decisions where a Spanish interpreter was used or when the hearing was conducted in Spanish. The cover sheet will include a short translated statement that describes the outcome of the hearing and instructs the appellant to call the hearings officer if he needs assistance to understand the decision. An appellant who indicates by telephone, in person or in writing that assistance is needed to understand the decision should receive an explanation of the hearing decision from bilingual personnel within a reasonable period of time.

 

1721.1 Signing the Hearings Decision

Revision 11-4; Effective June 1, 2011

 

All hearing decisions require the hearings officer's signature. When the hearings officer enters a dismiss or withdrawn decision in TIERS, Hearings and Appeals, the system generates a decision. However, these decisions also require a signature. Since the hearings officer has issued the decision, the administrative assistant may sign the decision for the hearings officer. The administrative assistant may sign by signing the hearings officer's name followed by the administrative assistant's initials or by signing the hearings officer's name followed with "by' and the administrative assistant's name.

 

1722 Hearings Covered by the Alberto N. Settlement

Revision 10-4; Effective July 16, 2010

 

The hearings officer prepares a written decision that includes:

In addition, all decisions involving children less than 21 years of age and an issue related to durable medical equipment, private duty nursing, home health skilled nursing or personal care services will be read by the appropriate manager before issuance.

 

1723 Delays in Issuing a Decision — 1 TAC §357.23(a)(3)

Revision 14-4; Effective November 14, 2014

 

The HHSC Appeals Division has 90 days (60 days for SNAP) to schedule and conduct the hearing and to issue a decision. HHSC tracks all appeal requests for timeliness.

“Delay” is a term the HHSC Appeals Division uses to allow for time extensions in individual cases when:

Delaying decisions in TANF and SNAP cases is permissible in accordance with a settlement agreement reached in the Villarreal lawsuit. HHSC has elected to apply such delays in issuing decisions to all fair hearing decisions.

The following delay codes are applicable in specified circumstances. The hearings officer can only use these codes before issuing a written decision.

  1. An appellant, appellant's representative, the agency or agency attorney may ask for one or more continuances or reschedules (not to exceed 30 calendar days from the last scheduled hearing date) for a hearing.

 

1724 Dismissals — 1 TAC Section 357.19(b)

Revision 11-2; Effective February 14, 2011

 

 

 

1724.1 Appellant Did Not Appear Initial Dismissal

Revision 10-1; Effective January 15, 2010

 

If the appellant fails to appear at the scheduled hearing, dismiss the appeal. If the appellant calls to request a rescheduled hearing, inform the appellant of the requirement to submit a good cause statement in writing within 30 calendar days of the dismissal decision date.

 

1724.2 Determining Good Cause

Revision 10-1; Effective January 15, 2010

 

If the hearings office receives a good cause statement requesting a reopened appeal within 30 calendar days of the dismissal decision date, date stamp the statement and immediately route it to the hearings officer for review. The hearings officer must determine on a case-by-case basis whether good cause is established for the appellant’s failure to appear at the scheduled hearing.

To constitute good cause for failure to appear, Appellant must demonstrate the failure was from circumstances that were not within his control. If the good cause statement shows that Appellant could have appeared but failed to do so, good cause is not established. The following reasons generally do not demonstrate good cause, but this list is not all-inclusive.

 

1724.3 Action on Good Cause Statement

Revision 13-2; Effective October 2, 2013

 

The hearings officer must initiate one of the following actions within 10 calendar days of receipt of the appellant’s good cause statement.

  1. Schedule a Hearing If the written statement establishes good cause for the appellant’s failure to appear at the scheduled hearing, schedule another hearing using Form H4803, Notice of Hearing. The reopen date will be the date the hearings office received the good cause statement.

    If the appellant appears for the hearing, the hearings officer includes in the decision’s procedural history the detailed actions taken and that the original dismissal decision is set aside.

    If the appellant fails to appear at the rescheduled hearing, dismiss the open appeal using the cover letter and dismissal order in TIERS. The appellant may again submit a good cause statement within 30 calendar days of the dismissal decision date to request a reopened appeal. The hearings officer reviews the good cause statement and again initiates one of the three aforementioned actions within 10 calendar days of receipt. There is no limit on the number of times an appellant may submit a good cause statement, as long as the hearings officer continues to find good cause and reschedules a hearing.
  2. Schedule and Conduct a Good Cause Hearing

    If the good cause statement does not contain sufficient or clear information that allows the hearings officer to determined if the appellant had good cause for failing to appear at the hearing, schedule a good cause hearing. Send the good cause hearing notice to the appellant, the agency representative and all other hearing participants listed on Form H4800, Fair Hearing Request Summary.

    Using the good cause hearing notice, the hearings officer notifies the appellant that either the appeal will be dismissed or a hearing will be held. The good cause hearing notice allows the hearings officer the option of handling the subsequent hearing in one of two ways — rescheduling the hearing to a later date and time, or proceeding with the hearing immediately after the good cause hearing.

    At the good cause hearing, the sole issue is whether the appellant’s reason(s) for failing to appear resulted from circumstances beyond his control. If the hearings officer finds failure to appear was not caused by such circumstances, the hearings officer closes the hearing record and dismisses the appeal. A good cause hearing may be rescheduled because of extenuating circumstances and considered on a case-by-case basis.

    If good cause is established and a new appeal hearing is conducted, the hearings officer details these actions in the decision’s procedural history and sets aside the original dismissal decision. The reopen date is the date the good cause statement was received by the hearings office.
  3. Issue a Good Cause Dismissal

    If the good cause statement does not clearly establish the appellant had good cause for failing to appear at the scheduled hearing, the hearings officer issues a good cause dismissal.
  4. Good Cause Statement Received after 30 Calendar Days

    If the appellant submits a good cause statement after the 30-day time period, send the appellant a letter within 10 calendar days of receipt by the hearings office. The letter informs the appellant that no further action will be taken on the appeal, because the good cause statement was submitted after the 30-day time period.

 

1724.4 Past 90-day Time Frame

Revision 11-4; Effective June 1, 2011

 

If the hearings officer receives a request for a fair hearing past the 90-day time frame, he sends a letter to the client asking for good cause for failing to appeal timely. After receiving the information, the hearings officer will review and determine if there was good cause for failing to appeal timely. If good cause is established, a hearing is scheduled. If good cause was not established, the hearings officer issues a decision dismissing the appeal request for want of jurisdiction. It is appropriate to schedule a pre-hearing conference to determine if there was good cause for the appellant's failure to request the appeal in a timely manner.

Exception: If the hearings officer receives a request for an over payment claim hearing past the 90-day time frame, a pre-hearing conference will be scheduled to determine good cause for the appellant's failure to request the fair hearing in a timely manner.

 

1725 Withdrawn Appeals — 1 TAC §357.19(c)

Revision 12-2; Effective January 20, 2012

 

Once an appeal is filed, only the appellant or his representative may withdraw the request. The appellant must make the request orally or in writing to the hearings officer or the local office and give the reason for requesting to withdraw.

 

1725.1 Oral Withdrawal Received During the Hearing

Revision 10-1; Effective January 15, 2010

 

If an appellant makes an oral request to withdraw during the hearing itself, the hearings officer should ensure the request is captured on the hearing recording, accept the request and issue a decision to show the appeal request was withdrawn.

 

1725.2 Reserved

Revision 12-2; Effective January 20, 2012

 

 

 

1725.3 If an Appellant Dies During the Appeal Process

Revision 11-1; Effective February 1, 2011

 

When an appellant dies during the appeal process, the legal representative of the decedent's estate must pursue the appeal, or the hearings officer may consider the appeal withdrawn.

 

1726 Reversed Appeals — 1 TAC §357.23(d)

Revision 10-4; Effective July 16, 2010

 

The hearings officer, following a hearing, reverses a decision of the agency or designee if the action or inaction is not supported by the evidence introduced at the hearing, in accordance with applicable statutes, policies or procedures. The agency may be instructed to issue retroactive payments or restored benefits in accordance with applicable rules, regulations and statutes.

If the hearings officer decides there is insufficient information to determine eligibility or benefit amount based on evidence presented during the hearing, he instructs the agency representative to obtain such information and make a redetermination in accordance with the hearings officer's order.

If changed circumstances were considered during the hearing, the hearings officer must make a finding of fact explaining why the appellant’s changed circumstances were or were not considered.

 

1727 Sustained Appeals — 1 TAC §357.23(c) and (e)

Revision 10-4; Effective July 16, 2010

 

The hearings officer sustains a decision of the agency or designee if the action or inaction is supported by the evidence admitted at the hearing, and is in accordance with applicable statutes, policies or procedures.

If changed circumstances were considered during the hearing, the hearings officer must make a finding of fact explaining why the appellant’s changed circumstances were or were not considered.

 

1728 Request to Reopen — 1 TAC §357.23(f)

Revision 14-4; Effective November 14, 2014

 

The hearings officer may reopen an appeal and reconsider the decision if, within 12 months of the decision date, the appellant offers evidence that:

The hearings officer must decide whether or not to reopen the appeal within 30 days from the date of the request. If the hearings officer decides to reopen the appeal, the decision-issuance time frames apply beginning with the date of the request to reopen. See Section 1711, Time Frames.

If the appellant offers information and asks to reopen the hearing, the agency must receive notice and have a chance to give input. Depending on the information the appellant offers, the hearings officer may need to schedule a hearing with notice to both parties.

If the appellant offers information after the hearings officer has issued the original decision and the hearings officer decides the information is new and that it would have affected the outcome of the decision, the hearings officer reopens the hearing. If the hearings officer reopens the hearing, he issues a new decision. If the hearings officer decides the information is not new evidence, he notifies the appellant in writing that he is denying the request to reopen and that the original decision remains in effect.

 

1729 Amended or Re-issued Decision — 1 TAC §357.23(g)

Revision 11-1; Effective February 1, 2011

 

The hearings officer has the authority to withdraw, revise and re-issue a decision within 20 calendar days following the original decision date if he becomes aware of an error of law or fact that would have affected the outcome of the decision for either side. The hearings officer does not have the authority to act 20 days after the decision was issued.

If program staff or appellant feel that the hearings officer committed an error of law or fact, staff may send a letter to the hearings officer and to the other parties within five business days of the date the decision was issued to allow the hearings officer sufficient time to re-issue a decision, if necessary.

The decision that is rendered must be identified as an amended decision. The procedural history should indicate the date the first decision was mailed and possibly the date the hearings officer became aware of the need to reconsider the decision.

An amended decision should be submitted to the hearings manager for review before issuance.

 

1730 Hearing Manager Responsibilities

Revision 11-2; Effective February 14, 2011

 

Managers have the responsibility and duty to ensure correct decisions are issued to the extent possible.

Managers are required to read the following types of decisions before they are issued:

Managers conduct quarterly readings of decisions issued by each hearings officer.

In critical or emergency situations, including when the hearings officer is unavailable, the hearings manager has the authority to act on behalf of staff and issue or re-issue decisions and orders.

 

1740 Decision Formats for Certain Decisions

Revision 11-2; Effective February 14, 2011

 

A decision is issued for every appeal requested. While all have some similarities there are some differences. Each format is described below with directions on when to use each.

 

1741 Decisions to Dismiss

Revision 11-2; Effective February 14, 2011

 

Decisions dismissing an appeal are used when the appellant fails to appear for the hearing or the issue on appeal is outside of the hearings officer’s jurisdiction. The decision format includes sections on Legal Authority and the Final Order.

 

1742 Decisions to Withdraw

Revision 11-4; Effective June 1, 2011

 

There are two types of withdrawal decision formats.

The withdrawn-in favor of format is used when the agency resolved the issue on appeal in the appellant's favor.

The withdrawn-sustained format is used when the appellant decides to withdraw the request for an appeal without any additional action by program staff.

The withdrawn decision format includes sections on Legal Authority and the Final Order.

 

1743 Decisions to Sustain or Reverse

Revision 11-2; Effective February 14, 2011

 

The same format is used for both of these types of decisions and includes more detail about the basis for the hearings officer’s determination. The format includes sections entitled Introduction, Purpose of the Fair Hearing, Legal Authority, Procedural History, Relevant Authorities, Summary of Evidence, Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law and the Final Order.

 

1744 Sustained and Reversed Decisions for Albert N. or THSteps Appeals

Revision 11-2; Effective February 14, 2011

 

The same format as described in §1733 is used for both types of decisions and includes the same sections except it also includes a Discussion section. The Discussion section contains a brief synopsis of each participant’s testimony and conclusions drawn from the critical points that were made.

 

1745 Decision to Uphold the Original Decision

Revision 11-2; Effective February 14, 2011

 

This decision format is used when an appellant presents information for good cause for not appearing for the hearing or when a hearings officer decides to reopen a hearing.

 

1746 Short Form for Reversed Decisions

Revision 11-2; Effective February 14, 2011

 

A short reversal format may be used when the agency representative admits that the agency made a mistake in deciding to take the action being appealed. The format includes only the Decision and the Final Order.

 

1750 Decision Routing

Revision 11-4; Effective June 1, 2011

 

Decisions should always be sent to the appellant, the appellant's representative, the agency representative, the agency representative's supervisor and Texas Workforce Solutions, if appropriate. The hearings officer may send the decision to others listed as Other Participants on Form H4800, Fair Hearing Request, as appropriate.

Staff are required to date, sign, e-mail to the agency, place in the agency mail for pick-up, and enter the decision in TIERS all in the same day.

Exception: Decisions processed after U.S. Postal Service mail pickup on Friday, or when Monday is a holiday, will be processed as follows:

See Appendix III, Distribution Schedule, for more detail on distributing hearings decisions.

Hearings staff send a monthly report of the reversed nursing facility discharge appeals and copies of the decision to the DADS Consumer Rights and Services at CRSComplaints@dads.state.tx.us.

 

1800 Implementing the Hearing Decision — 1 TAC §357.7(b)(5)

Revision 10-3; Effective May 21, 2010

 

 

 

1810 Responsibility of the Agency Representative for Implementing Decisions

Revision 10-3; Effective May 21, 2010

 

When the hearings officer reverses the agency action on appeal, the agency representative is required to implement the order and enter implementation data in the TIERS, Hearings and Appeals, Decision Implementation module.

The agency representative has 10 days from the date the decision was issued to implement the hearing decision. If additional information is needed, the agency representative will contact the appellant and pend the implementation process. Once the additional information is received, the agency representative has three business days to complete the implementation.

The agency representative implements the hearing decision and enters the implementation information in the TIERS Hearings and Appeals, Decision Implementation module, including delays. (For more information on delays, see Item 1723, Delays in Issuing a Decision – 1 TAC §357.23(a)(3).)

 

1811 Delays in Implementing a Hearings Decision

Revision 11-1; Effective February 1, 2011

 

The following delay codes are applicable in specific circumstances and can only be used by program staff after a hearing decision has been issued and the worker is delayed in responding to the directives of the hearing officer.

  1. Circumstances beyond HHSC's control, such as fire, flood or other acts of nature. If D is used, the reason must be stated.
  2. Additional information/verification was needed from the appellant, and the appellant agreed to cooperate.
  3. Appellant refused to cooperate in providing additional information/verification.

Program staff enter delays in the TIERS Hearings and Appeal Module under Decision Implementation/Delays.

 

1820 Responsibility of the Agency Representative’s Supervisor

Revision 10-1; Effective January 15, 2010

 

An alert is sent to the agency representative’s supervisor via TIERS once the agency representative enters the implementation information in TIERS Hearings and Appeals, Decision Implementation module. Upon receipt of the alert, the agency representative supervisor must review and approve the agency representative’s implementation actions.

Exception: DADS program staff not required to conduct a second level review.

Program staff have 10 days from the date on the hearing decision to implement the hearings officer’s decision.

 

1900 Records and Confidential Information

Revision 10-1; Effective January 15, 2010

 

 

 

1910 Confidential Material — 1 TAC §357.25(d)

Revision 10-1; Effective January 15, 2010

 

Information furnished in confidence by anyone to the HHSC and was used to make an eligibility determination may not be used to make a hearing decision unless it is shared with the appellant.

Example: During the eligibility determination process, Ms. Brown told her worker that she was not working and had no income. A neighbor contacted the eligibility worker and stated that Ms. Brown was working at the local Wal-Mart. The worker verified that Ms. Brown did indeed work at Wal-Mart and denied her application for assistance. At the hearing, the worker did not want to share the information received from the neighbor so the hearings officer may not consider the statement as evidence.

 

1920 Privileges — 1 TAC §357.25(d)

Revision 10-1; Effective January 15, 2010

 

No party to a fair hearing is required to disclose information that is deemed privileged by law. This includes communications between a lawyer and a client, a husband and wife, and a clergy-person and a person seeking spiritual advice. Likewise, the name of an informant or other information protected from disclosure by federal or state substantive law may not be shared with an appellant.

 

1930 Public Access to Decisions — 1 TAC §357.25(c)

Revision 10-1; Effective January 15, 2010

 

 

 

1931 Confidential Information

Revision 10-1; Effective January 15, 2010

 

 

1932 Disclosure of Hearings Recordings and Records

Revision 10-1; Effective January 15, 2010

 

 

1940 Official Record — 1 TAC §357.25(a)

Revision 10-1; Effective January 15, 2010

 

The official record of the hearing includes the exhibits offered to the hearings officer, the exhibits admitted, the recording of the hearing, any briefs or memoranda filed in connection with the hearing, the hearings officer’s decision and any items filed in connection with administrative review and the decision on administrative review.

 

1950 Record Retention –1 TAC §357.25(b)

Revision 10-1; Effective January 15, 2010

 

The official record of all hearings is retained by the HHSC Appeals Division according to the HHSC Records/Retention Schedule.

 

1960 Prohibition of Use of Information Regarding Alien Status

Revision 10-1; Effective January 15, 2010

 

HHSC shall not disclose any of the information about a client to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services or any government agency, except as required by law.

FFHH, Section 2000, Fair Hearing Decision Reviews

Revision 14-5; Effective December 10, 2014

 

The hearings officer makes the final administrative decision in fair hearings for certain Texas Health and Human System (HHS) agencies and their designees.

If the appellant disagrees with the hearings officer’s decision, an administrative review, judicial review or procedural review may be requested.

If the agency disagrees with the hearings officer’s decision, a review may be requested via the exception process.

 

2100 Administrative Review – 1 TAC §357.701-703

Revision 11-4; Effective June 1, 2011

 

An administrative review is the review of a hearings officer’s decision on a Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) or Medicaid appeal or an administrative disqualification hearing by HHSC Regional Legal Services. The assigned attorney reviews the testimony and evidence available to the hearings officer when the decision was issued and issues a new decision. An appellant or appellant’s representative may request an administrative review when he does not agree with the hearings officer’s decision.

 

2110 Appellant’s Responsibility

Revision 11-4; Effective June 1, 2011

 

When an appellant or appellant’s representative does not agree with a hearings officer’s decision, he may request a review of the decision within 30 days of the date on the decision. The request must be in writing and postmarked no later than the 30th day. A request for administrative review will be considered timely if filed after 30 days, when the appellant demonstrates good cause for the filing delay.

The request for a review is sent to the hearings administrator at:

Hearings Administrator
Mail Code W-613
P.O. Box 149030
Austin, TX 78714

Exception: The 30 days does not begin until a new decision is issued if the appellant or appellant’s representative is working with the hearings officer to reopen or reschedule the hearing.

 

2120 Receipt of the Administrative Review Request

Revision 14-2; Effective August 6, 2014

 

Appellants submit administrative review requests by fax, mail and email.

Upon receipt of the request, the hearings administrator’s assistant:

The hearings officer reviews the request to determine whether to reopen the appeal. If the original appeal was dismissed because the appellant failed to appear for the hearing, the hearings officer needs to determine if the appellant had good cause for failing to appear. If the hearings officer determines the appellant did have good cause, the hearings officer reopens the appeal. If the hearings officer determines the appellant did not have good cause, the appeal is sent to administrative review. If the appeal is being reopened, the hearings manager sends an email to the hearings administrator.

The database is updated to reflect the decision to reopen the appeal.

If the appeal is not reopened, the request is sent to Regional Legal Services.

The hearings administrator sends an acknowledgement letter to the appellant.

The appellant has the right to submit a brief. The brief should be no more than five pages. For the brief to be considered, the appellant must submit it with the request for administrative review filed with the hearings administrator. The brief must address only the issues that were addressed in the appeal hearing.

 

2130 Assigning the Administrative Review Request

Revision 11-4; Effective June 1, 2011

 

The scanned request and any other documents submitted by the appellant are e-mailed to the Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) Regional Legal Services and a request is made that an attorney be assigned. The documents are also sent to the appropriate hearings manager.

The e-mail with the scanned documents will include the appeal ID, case name, case number, program, region, hearings officer, date of request and date of decision.

HHSC's Regional Legal Services responds to the e-mail and assigns an attorney.

Hearings staff scan the hearing record and post it to the public folder notifying the assigned attorney via e-mail when it is posted and the file name. The hearing record must be received by the assigned attorney within 10 days from the date of the request.

The assigned attorney will access the hearing record from the public folder and the AVAYA recording from the FairHearAudio folder.

 

2140 Completing the Administrative Review

Revision 10-4; Effective July 16, 2010

 

 

 

2141 Attorney’s Responsibility

Revision 11-1; Effective June 1, 2011

 

Within 15 business days of receipt of the hearing record, the assigned attorney will review the hearing record and issue a new decision.

The decision format will be similar to the one used by the hearings officer. The decision will include any direction to program staff. The cover letter will include how the appellant can request judicial review, the time frames for requesting judicial review and the appropriate legal aid information.

The attorney will provide a copy of the decision to the appellant, appellant's representative and e-mail a scanned copy with all appropriate signatures to the hearings administrator, the director of appeals and the appropriate hearings manager.

If the hearing was related to a Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) sanction, the attorney will also provide a copy to TWC via mail at the following addresses:

Loretta Robertson
Texas Workforce Commission
101 E. 15th Street, Room 440T
Austin, TX 78778
512-936-6265
Fax: 512-463-7379

The attorney may choose to discuss the case with his supervisor. Ex parte communication does not include discussing the decision with supervisors in the attorney's chain of command.

 

2141.1 New Information Received During the Administrative Review

Revision 14-4; Effective November 14, 2014

 

When appeals go to administrative review, appellants often give new information (information the appellant did not offer during the hearing) that the hearings officer may not have considered. Additionally, the appellant may give information directly to the reviewing attorney after the record has gone to administrative review. If the appellant hires an attorney, the attorney may decide to submit a brief to the reviewing attorney. The brief should be no more than five pages.

In both instances, the hearings officer has a chance to decide whether the information would have altered the original decision.

If the appellant offers new information before the appeal goes to administrative review, the appeal goes back to the hearings officer for review. The hearings officer decides if the information is new and if it would have changed the original decision. After reviewing the information, the hearings officer either reopens the hearing or issues a new decision upholding the original decision.

If the hearings officer upholds the original decision, he states that the information given does not constitute new evidence. If the evidence is in fact new information, he states that it would not have altered the original decision. The appeal then goes to the reviewing attorney for administrative review.

If the appellant offers new information after the administrative review has gone to the reviewing attorney, the reviewing attorney sends the case back to the hearings officer. The hearings officer then decides whether the new information would have changed the original decision.

The reviewing attorney may not consider any information in the administrative review that was not available to the hearings officer or not included in the hearing record. The reviewing attorney decides whether the decision was correct in light of the evidence admitted at the hearing and the application of relevant policy (law) to that evidence.

The reviewing attorney may consider legal briefs the appellant submits during the administrative review process, unless they contain any information that was not available to the hearings officer or not included in the hearing record.

If the legal briefs contain new information, the reviewing attorney must send the case back to the hearings officer for consideration, and the hearings officer will make a new decision.

 

2142 Hearings Administrator's Responsibility

Revision 11-4; Effective June 1, 2011

 

Upon receipt of the attorney's decision, the database and tracking spreadsheet will be updated with the outcome and date of decision.

If the decision is a reversal and some action needs to be taken by program, the hearings administrator will direct the hearings manager to send the decision and Form H4807, Action Taken on Hearing Decision, to program and track for completion.

 

2143 Hearings Manager Responsibilities

Revision 10-4; Effective July 16, 2010

 

The hearings manager will provide the decision and Form H4807, Action Taken on Hearing Decision, to the appropriate program staff if the attorney’s decision requires program to take an action, track for completion and provide that information to the hearings administrator.

 

2200 Judicial Review

Revision 10-4; Effective July 16, 2010

 

If an appellant does not agree with the administrative review decision, he can file a request for a judicial review with the courts in Travis County within 30 days of the date of the administrative review decision.

 

2210 Preparing the File

Revision 11-4; Effective June 1, 2011

 

When the agency is served with process and an appellant has filed for judicial review in the courts of Travis County, the following actions are taken.

 

2220 Completing the Judicial Review

Revision 11-4; Effective June 1, 2011

 

HHSC Legal Division staff will notify the special counsel for appeals when the district court has issued a decision on the judicial review request.

The special counsel for appeals will notify the appeals director and the hearings administrator of the court's decision.

Upon receipt of the court's decision, hearings staff will update the database and tracking spreadsheet with the outcome and date of decision.

If the decision is a reversal and some action needs to be taken by program, the hearings administrator will direct the hearings manager to send the decision and Form H4807, Action Taken on Hearing Decision, to program and track for completion.

 

2230 Hearings Manager Responsibilities

Revision 10-4; Effective July 16, 2010

 

The hearings manager will provide the decision and Form H4807, Action Taken on Hearing Decision, to the appropriate program staff if the judge’s decision requires program to take an action, track for completion, and provide that information to the hearings administrator.

 

2300 Process and Time Frame for Procedural Reviews

Revision 11-4; Effective June 1, 2011

 

The hearings officer makes the final administrative decision in all appeals not covered under Chapter 31 (TANF), Chapter 32 (Medicaid) or Chapter 33 (Nutrition Assistance Programs) in the Human Resources Code. An appellant or his representative may file a request for a procedural review. Examples of programs eligible for procedural review include Disaster Assistance, Refugee Cash Assistance and In-Home Family Support Services.

When an appellant or appellant's representative does not agree with a hearings officer's decision, he may request a procedural review of the decision within 30 days of the date on the decision. The request must be in writing and postmarked no later than the 30th day. A request for procedural review will be considered timely if filed after 30 days when the appellant demonstrates good cause for the filing delay.

A procedural review is a review of the hearing record by an HHSC Regional Legal Services attorney. The attorney reviews all documentation submitted, listens to the recorded hearing and reviews the hearings officer's decision. A procedural review does not change the outcome of the hearing.

The request for a review is sent to the hearings administrator at:

Hearings Administrator
Mail Code W-613
P.O. Box 149030
Austin, TX 78714

Exception: The 30 days does not begin until a new decision is issued if the appellant or appellant's representative is working with the hearings officer to reopen or reschedule the hearing.

 

2310 Receipt of the Procedural Review Request

Revision 11-4; Effective June 1, 2011

 

Procedural Review requests may be received by fax, mail or e-mail from appellants.

Upon receipt of the request, the hearings administrator’s assistant:

The hearings area manager scans the hearing record and posts it to the public folder notifying the assigned attorney via e-mail when it is posted and the file name. The assigned attorney must receive the hearing record within 10 days from the date of the request.

The attorney will access the hearings record from the public folder and the AVAYA recording from the AVAYA folder.

The hearings administrator sends an acknowledgement letter to the appellant.

 

2320 Completing the Procedural Review

Revision 11-4; Effective June 1, 2011

 

 

 

2321 Attorney’s Responsibilities

Revision 11-4; Effective June 1, 2011

 

Within 15 days of receipt of the hearing record, the regional attorney will review the applicable law, facts and regulations contained in the record developed by the hearings officer.

The regional attorney e-mails the review results to the hearings administrator and hearings manager.

 

2322 Hearings Administrator's Responsibilities

Revision 11-4; Effective June 1, 2011

 

The hearings manager reviews the attorney's opinion and takes appropriate action. A letter to the appellant is developed by the hearings manager explaining the results of the review and any actions that may be taken. The letter is signed by the hearings administrator.

 

2400 Exception Process for Agency and Program Staff

Revision 10-4; Effective July 16, 2010

 

 

 

2410 General

Revision 14-5; Effective December 10, 2014

 

Although program staff may disagree with the hearings officer’s decision, they must carry out the fair hearing decision once it has been made. However, program staff have 20 calendar days from the date of the decision to ask for an exception to the fair hearing decision. The exception process exists to make sure both program staff and hearings officers consistently apply applicable policy.

When a hearings officer issues a fair hearing decision, staff must carry out the decision within the implementation time frames, including restoring benefits to which the appellant is entitled.

 

2420 Initial Review of the Hearing Decision

Revision 10-4; Effective July 16, 2010

 

If program staff disagree with the fair hearing decision and initiate the exception process, a memorandum must be sent to the manager of the fair hearings officer that rendered the decision requesting an informal review of the decision, with a copy to the fair hearings administrator.

The fair hearings manager conducts a preliminary review of the decision, with input from relevant stakeholders and provides a response to program.

 

2430 Memorandum to Program Policy Staff

Revision 10-4; Effective July 16, 2010

 

If program staff still disagree with the fair hearing decision, program staff must send a memorandum to their policy staff with a copy of the hearings officer’s decision and the outcome of the preliminary review conducted by the fair hearings manager. The fair hearings administrator, fair hearings manager and the appropriate program staff must also receive a copy of the memorandum. The memorandum must include:

 

2440 Response from Program Policy Staff

Revision 10-4; Effective July 16, 2010

 

Program policy staff contact the fair hearings administrator after the memorandum is reviewed and prepares a response to the requestor.

If policy staff agrees with the requestor, it does not change the outcome of the appeal. It does, however, provide guidance for hearings officer and staff concerning correct policy and procedures for future decisions, and allows program staff to correct the case for future benefits.

 

2450 Hearing Manager’s Responsibility in the Exception Process

Revision 10-4; Effective July 16, 2010

 

Upon receiving an exception to a hearings officer’s decision, the manager will review the case record and recording.

FFHH, Section 4000, Administrative Disqualification Hearings

Revision 15-2; Effective November 20, 2015

 

 

 

4100 Introduction and Legal Basis — 1 Texas Administrative Code (TAC) §357.521

Revision 15-2; Effective November 20, 2015

 

A respondent becomes ineligible to take part in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and/or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program if a state or federal court or administrative agency finds he has committed an intentional program violation.

The Food Stamp Act of 1977, as amended in Section 6(b) by the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1981, and Sections 403, 416 and 1102 of the Social Security Act provide for this action.

 

4110 Requirement for Administrative Disqualification Hearing (ADH)

Revision 15-2; Effective November 20, 2015

 

Federal regulations implementing the provisions of the Food Stamp Act and Social Security Act require the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) to establish procedures for holding administrative disqualification hearings.

According to TAC, Title 1, Part 15, Chapter 357, §357.521, HHSC may initiate an administrative disqualification hearing in SNAP and TANF cases. To initiate this hearing, HHSC must have documented evidence to prove that a respondent has intentionally committed one or more of the acts described in Section 4111, Definition of Intentional Program Violation.

HHSC will combine the proceedings against a person taking part in both the SNAP and TANF programs if the factual issue arises from the same or similar circumstances.

 

4111 Definition of Intentional Program Violation

Revision 15-2; Effective November 20, 2015

 

The Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), Title 7, Subtitle B, Chapter II, Part 273, Subpart F, §273.16(c) states that a SNAP intentional program violation is one or more of the following intentional actions:

* Trafficking means:

Title 45 CFR, Subtitle B, Chapter II, Part 235, §235.110(b) states that a TANF intentional program violation is determined in accordance with state law. A TANF violation occurs when a person’s action results in:

HHSC may charge a respondent with an intentional program violation even if he has not actually received benefits to which he is not entitled.

 

4112 Initiating the Administrative Disqualification Process

Revision 15-2; Effective November 20, 2015

 

Office of Inspector General (OIG) investigators are responsible for starting the process to inform certain individuals accused of an intentional program violation about their right to waive an administrative disqualification hearing. If the respondent signs the waiver, see Section 4131, Waivers. When the respondent does not sign the waiver, OIG investigators send the case to a hearings officer to schedule an administrative disqualification hearing. The hearings officer decides whether or not the respondent is guilty of committing an intentional program violation.

 

4120 Administrative Disqualification Hearings Officer

Revision 15-2; Effective November 20, 2015

 

 

 

4121 Designation of Hearings Officer — 1 TAC §357.522

Revision 15-2; Effective November 20, 2015

 

HHSC employs impartial officials to preside over fair and fraud hearings and to issue decisions on actions taken by HHSC and its designees, per state and federal law. A person authorized to conduct fair hearings under Section 1000, Fair Hearings, may also conduct administrative disqualification hearings.

 

4122 Disqualification of Hearings Officer — 1 TAC §357.523

Revision 15-2; Effective November 20, 2015

 

HHSC disqualifies a hearings officer if he takes part in the decision to:

HHSC may disqualify a hearings officer for any of the following reasons:

HHSC does not disqualify a hearings officer for answering a question about HHSC policy concerning the case if the question and answer are stated in broad terms.

 

4123 Alternate Hearings Officer

Revision 15-2; Effective November 20, 2015

 

If the hearings officer questions his qualifications, he informs the hearings manager or hearings administrator about his concerns. The hearings manager or administrator may assign the hearing to another hearings officer.

If an alternate hearings officer cannot be chosen from within the same area, the hearings administrator appoints an alternate hearings officer from another area.

When the hearings manager or administrator appoints an alternate hearings officer, the first hearings officer immediately sends all documents concerning the hearing to the alternate hearings officer.

 

4124 Hearings Officer's Powers and Duties — 1 TAC §357.524

Revision 15-2; Effective November 20, 2015

 

The hearings officer:

 

4130 Referral Process

Revision 15-2; Effective November 20, 2015

 

The OIG investigator sends the hearings officer a referral for an administrative disqualification concerning the alleged intentional program violation. The referral must include, but is not limited to:

Before the hearing, the OIG investigator sends the hearings officer and the respondent an evidence packet which must include, but is not limited to:

The OIG investigator should send the evidence packet to the hearings officer and the respondent at least 20 calendar days before the hearing to allow sufficient time for review.

The hearings officer sets the date for the hearing and sends Form H4851-F, Notice of Administrative Disqualification Hearing, to the respondent and OIG investigator.

If two or more members of the same household are charged, the hearings officer handles each as a separate case. However, at the request of both parties, HHSC may hold a joint hearing. Even if HHSC holds a joint hearing, the hearings officer issues separate decisions and must send a separate notice to each person.

 

4131 Waivers

Revision 15-2; Effective November 20, 2015

 

OIG investigators are responsible for starting the process to inform certain individuals accused of an intentional program violation about their right to waive an administrative disqualification hearing. The respondent may waive his right to a hearing when the respondent signs and returns the waiver. If the respondent waives the administrative disqualification hearing, he will sign a Waiver of Disqualification Hearing form and a Repayment Agreement form.

The OIG investigator sends a copy of the signed waiver to the Appeals Division and to the OIG Disqualification Unit, State Office, which initiates the disqualification penalty. The Appeals Division will make sure appropriate hearings staff are informed.

 

4132 Definition of a Valid Waiver

Revision 15-2; Effective November 20, 2015

 

7 CFR §273.16(f) refers to waivers. Please see the full section for more information.

7 CFR §273.16(f) defines a valid waiver as:

"(ii) The written notification provided to the household member which informs him/her of the possibility of waiving the administrative disqualification hearing shall include, at a minimum:

(A) The date that the signed waiver must be received by the State agency to avoid the holding of a hearing and a signature block for the accused individual, along with a statement that the head of household must also sign the waiver if the accused individual is not the head of household, with an appropriately designated signature block."

 

4133 Processing ADH Waivers or Withdrawals

Revision 15-2; Effective November 20, 2015

 

Upon receipt of a valid waiver from a respondent or a request from OIG to withdraw the ADH referral, the hearings officer takes action based on the circumstances described below. A case folder will be created for each waiver/withdrawal and filed according to local office procedures.

Scenario 1: After hearings staff mail the appointment notice, the hearings officer receives a waiver, or OIG asks to withdraw the ADH request.

OIG sends an ADH case report to hearings staff asking for an ADH. Hearings staff schedule the ADH and mail the appointment letter to the respondent. After the mailing of the appointment notice, but before the hearing, OIG gives the hearings officer a valid waiver. The hearings officer sends the respondent a letter stating the hearing will not be held because the respondent waived his right to a hearing. Hearings staff generate all waiver and withdrawal notices via the Texas Integrated Eligibility Redesign System (TIERS) Hearings and Appeals Correspondence.

Scenario 2: Before hearings staff mail the appointment notice, the hearings officer receives a waiver, or OIG asks to withdraw the ADH request.

OIG sends an ADH summary to hearings staff asking for an ADH. Before hearings staff mail the appointment letter, OIG receives a valid waiver from the respondent and sends it to the hearings officer, or OIG decides it should not have asked for an ADH and sends a withdrawal to the hearings officer. If the ADH has not been assigned to a hearings officer, the waiver/withdrawal is sent to the manager for assignment. The hearings officer generates a letter to the respondent via TIERS Hearings and Appeals Correspondence.

Scenario 3: During or after the hearing, OIG asks to withdraw the ADH request, or the hearings officer receives a waiver.

OIG sends an ADH summary to hearings staff asking for an ADH. Hearings staff schedule the ADH and mail the appointment letter to the respondent. During or after the hearing, OIG decides to withdraw its request or submits a waiver. The hearings officer will issue a decision. The decision will be “did not commit” if OIG requests to withdraw the ADH request. If the hearings officer receives a waiver during or after the hearing, he will decide the case based on the evidence.

 

4134 Scheduling the Hearing — 1 TAC §357.525

Revision 15-2; Effective November 20, 2015

 

Form H4851-F, Notice of Administrative Disqualification Hearing, must be sent to the respondent within 20 calendar days from the date OIG asks for the hearing. The hearings officer must hold the hearing and issue a written decision no later than 90 calendar days from the date hearings staff mail the hearing notice to the respondent. The hearings officer schedules the hearing at a reasonable time and place. Hearings are normally held using a scan call conferencing system. A respondent may ask for a face-to-face hearing, but must show good cause for a face-to-face hearing before the hearings officer grants the request. The hearings officer decides whether good cause exists for a face-to-face hearing.

 

4135 Advance Notice of Hearing — 1 TAC §357.526

Revision 15-2; Effective November 20, 2015

 

The hearings officer sends the respondent advance notice of the hearing in sufficient time to allow receipt at least 30 calendar days before the scheduled hearing date. The notice is sent first class and certified mail, return receipt requested, to the most current mailing address available to any division within HHSC, and it is marked "return service requested." Delivery is not restricted to the addressee. The notice specifies the charges against the respondent and a summary of the evidence (including how and where it may be examined). If the notice is returned showing a new address, the hearings officer will re-send it and reapply advance notice requirements.

Form H4851-F, Notice of Administrative Disqualification Hearing, serves as a notice of the hearing for the respondent. Hearings staff generate all hearing notices via TIERS Hearings and Appeals Correspondence.

The hearings officer sends a full hearing packet to the respondent and the respondent’s representative, which includes a copy of Form H4800-ADH, Request for Administrative Disqualification Hearing; Form H4851-F; Form H4855, Statement of Household Member's Rights in Administrative Disqualification Hearing; Form H4856, Request for Another Appointment for Administrative Disqualification Hearing; Form H4861, Receipt of Notice; and an envelope addressed to the hearings officer.

The hearings officer sends a partial hearing packet to the witnesses, which includes Form H4851-F only.

TIERS generates an alert to the agency representative when the Managed Office Resource (MOR) search function is used to create the appeal. If MOR is not used, a packet containing Form H4851-F is generated.

Because the respondent must receive the notice at least 30 days before the hearing, TIERS will not allow hearings staff to enter the notice less than 40 days before the hearing if advance notice requirements apply. (See Section 4220, Time Frames, Postponements, Recesses and Delays — 1 TAC §357.533 and §357.534, for information on when advance notice requirements do not apply. If advance notice requirements do not apply, TIERS will not allow hearings staff to enter the notice less than 14 days before the hearing.)

Advance notice requirements are met when the hearings officer mails the notice to the most current mailing address available to any division within HHSC. Regardless of whether the certified or first class mail is returned, if the hearings officer mailed it per advance notice requirements, the hearing will be held.

 

4136 Participation While Hearing Is Pending — 1 TAC §357.527

Revision 15-2; Effective November 20, 2015

 

HHSC may not disqualify a respondent for an intentional program violation until the hearings officer finds that the person committed an intentional program violation. A pending hearing does not affect the respondent's or the household's right to be certified and participate in the program.

HHSC reduces or terminates benefits if:

HHSC may adjust benefits if it has facts substantiating the household's failure to report a change in its circumstances. HHSC does not have to show that the failure to report was an intentional program violation before making the adjustment.

Pending the hearing, HHSC determines the eligibility and benefit level of the household per usual procedures. If the suspected action does not affect the household's current circumstance, the household:

HHSC terminates benefits if:

 

4200 Hearing Procedure

Revision 10-1; Effective January 15, 2010

 

 

4210 Conduct of Hearing — 1 TAC §357.528

Revision 15-2; Effective November 20, 2015

 

The hearings officer conducts the administrative disqualification hearing as an informal proceeding, not as a formal court hearing. The participants are placed under oath, but the formal rules of evidence are not followed.

At the hearing, the hearings officer must advise the respondent or his representative that he may refuse to testify or answer questions during the hearing.

The hearing is recorded.

 

4211 Presentation of HHSC's Case — 1 TAC §357.540

Revision 15-2; Effective November 20, 2015

 

OIG is responsible for presenting HHSC'S case in the administrative disqualification hearing.

 

4212 Respondent's Rights During Hearing — 1 TAC §357.530

Revision 15-2; Effective November 20, 2015

 

The hearings officer must give the respondent or his representative an adequate chance to do the following:

 

4213 Attendance at Hearing — 1 TAC §357.529

Revision 15-2; Effective November 20, 2015

 

A representative from OIG must attend the hearing to explain and defend HHSC's case.

The respondent may attend the hearing, offer evidence, present testimony, ask questions and answer questions; however, he is not required to do so. If the respondent does not attend the hearing or chooses not to testify or answer questions, the hearings officer will consider only HHSC's evidence and testimony in making a decision.

The hearing is not open to the public; however, at the respondent's request, friends and relatives may attend. If space is limited, the hearings officer may limit the number of people attending the hearing.

 

4213.1 Failure of OIG to Appear

Revision 15-2; Effective November 20, 2015

 

If the OIG representative does not appear to explain or defend HHSC’s case, the hearings officer opens the record and states that the agency representative did not appear. The hearings officer will take no testimony. The hearings officer closes the record and issues a decision finding the respondent did not commit an intentional program violation, regardless of whether the respondent appears for the hearing.

 

4213.2 Failure of Respondent to Appear – Notice Requirement Met — 1 TAC §357.532

Revision 15-2; Effective November 20, 2015

 

If advance notice requirements (as outlined in Section 4135, Advance Notice of Hearing — 1 TAC §357.526) are met and the respondent or his representative fails to attend a hearing without good cause, the hearings officer holds the hearing without the respondent. The respondent has 10 calendar days from the date of the hearing to show good cause for failing to appear.

If the hearings officer finds the respondent committed an intentional program violation, but later finds that the respondent or his representative did not receive notice of the hearing or had good cause for not appearing, a new hearing is held. The previous decision is no longer valid, and a new decision is issued. The respondent has one year from the date of the hearing decision to show good cause for failure to appear because he did not receive notice of the hearing.

 

4213.3 Failure of Respondent to Appear – Notice Requirement Not Met — 1 TAC §357.532(c)

Revision 15-2; Effective November 20, 2015

 

If advance notice requirements are not met, the hearings officer reschedules the hearing to ensure advance notice requirements are met.

 

4220 Time Frames, Postponements, Recesses and Delays — 1 TAC §357.533 and §357.534

Revision 15-2; Effective November 20, 2015

 

The hearings officer must hold the hearing and issue a written decision no later than 90 calendar days from the date that hearings staff mail Form H4851-F, Notice of Administrative Disqualification Hearing, to the respondent. 

If the initial notice is returned due to a bad address and hearings staff re-send it to a more current address, the hearings officer must issue the written decision no later than 90 calendar days from the date that hearings staff mail the second Form H4851-F. Advance notice is still required if the hearings officer reschedules a hearing for this reason. When entering the new notice in TIERS, use the delay reason "Bad Address/Unable to Locate."

Exceptions: Issuing some decisions may be delayed beyond the time periods described above. In the instances below, hearings staff may enter a delay in TIERS, and the due date will be extended by the number of delay days entered. Hearings staff should enter a delay for the number of days between the first and second hearing date or for the number of days needed to get additional information. The maximum allowable delay is 30 days.

The respondent or his representative may ask for one postponement of up to 30 calendar days. Additional postponements may be requested and approved if the respondent has good cause for asking for the postponement. Advance notice is not required for hearings rescheduled at the respondent’s request. The hearings officer must allow a minimum notice of 14 days for these hearings. When rescheduling the hearing in TIERS, enter a delay using "Rescheduled at Client's Request."  

Hearings may also be postponed at the request of OIG for business reasons if OIG makes the request no later than five calendar days after the date on Form H4851-F. Business reasons include conflicts in scheduling due to training, meetings or multiple hearings scheduled at the same time. Business reasons do not include conflicts in scheduling due to leave or flex time. If the hearings officer postpones a hearing at the request of OIG, the hearings officer must give advance notice of the postponed hearing to the respondent. When entering the new notice in TIERS, use the delay reason "Request by Agency."

Hearings may be postponed due to factors beyond the control of the hearings officer, such as inclement weather or power outages. If factors beyond the control of the hearings officer cause a postponement, the hearings officer must give advance notice of the postponed hearing to the respondent. When rescheduling the hearing in TIERS, enter a delay using "Delay Beyond Agency Control."

If the respondent asks for additional information or wants additional information considered, the hearings officer may recess the hearing to allow time to receive this information. The respondent may question or refute any additional testimony or evidence after a recess.

The hearings officer may order a recess to ask for and receive additional testimony or evidence. The hearings officer tells the respondent or his representative the reason for the recess and the nature of the requested information. The respondent may question or refute any additional testimony or evidence after a recess.

The hearings officer reconvenes the hearing after the witness, document or other evidence is available. Once the hearings officer reconvenes the hearing, it is held as any other hearing.

Advance notice of 30 days is not required for hearings held open for additional evidence. The hearings officer should allow notice of 14 days for these hearings unless all parties agree in advance upon a date and time to reconvene. When scheduling the reconvened hearing in TIERS, enter a delay using "Record Held Open for Additional Evidence."

Use the chart below to determine due dates, notice requirements, delay reasons and maximum delays allowed.

Situation Notice Requirement Delay Reason Maximum Delay Days New Due Date
Form H4851-F returned, or more current address discovered Advance notice (40 days, to allow receipt 30 days before hearing) Bad Address/Unable to Locate N/A Form H4851-F date plus 90 calendar days
Respondent asks to reschedule 14 days Rescheduled at Client's Request 30 Initial due date plus number of delay days
OIG asks to reschedule for business reasons Advance notice Request by Agency 30 Initial due date plus number of delay days
Inclement weather
Power outage
Advance notice Delay Beyond Agency Control 30 Initial due date plus number of delay days
Respondent asks for time to send new information
Reconvene
14 days unless shorter time frame agreed upon by all parties Record Held Open for Additional Evidence 30 Initial due date plus number of delay days

 

4230 Consideration of the Case and Findings by the Hearings Officer — 1 TAC §357.531 and §357.535

Revision 15-2; Effective November 20, 2015

 

The hearings officer must base his decision on clear and convincing evidence that the respondent committed an intentional program violation, as defined in Section 4111, Definition of Intentional Program Violation.

Clear and convincing evidence means the trier of fact must be persuaded by the evidence that it is highly probable the claim is true. The clear and convincing evidence standard is greater than the preponderance of the evidence standard but less than beyond a reasonable doubt.

The hearings officer must substantiate his decision by identifying supporting evidence and applicable regulations. He must also respond to reasonable arguments made by the respondent or the respondent's representative.

The hearings officer makes a decision about the allegation that the respondent committed an intentional program violation. The hearings officer issues a written decision within the time frames specified in Section 4220, Time Frames, Postponements, Recesses and Delays — 1 TAC §357.533 and §357.534. The decision of the hearings officer must comply with HHSC policy and federal law and regulations, and it must be based exclusively on the hearing record.

The hearings officer may not find that the respondent committed an intentional program violation unless there is clear and convincing evidence in the record to support a decision that the respondent knowingly, willfully and with deceitful intent committed an act described in Section 4111, Definition of Intentional Program Violation.

 

4240 The Hearing Record and Decision — 1 TAC §357.536

Revision 15-2; Effective November 20, 2015

 

Respondents or their representatives may inspect the hearing record during work hours. They may also ask for a copy of the hearing record.

The hearings officer sends written notice of the decision to the respondent or to the appropriate HHSC staff per Section 4243, Notice of Hearing Decision and the Effect on Remaining Household Members — 1 TAC §357.538. The hearings officer's decision:

The hearing record includes all exhibits admitted to the hearing record, all correspondence concerning the hearing and the audio recording of the hearing.

HHSC keeps hearing records for both SNAP and TANF administrative disqualification hearings for audit and review purposes per the records retention schedule, which is currently six years from the decision date.

 

4241 Effect of an Administrative Determination of Intentional Program Violation — 1 TAC §357.537

Revision 15-2; Effective November 20, 2015

 

4241.1 Procedures for SNAP and TANF Administrative and Judicial Reviews

Revision 15-2; Effective November 20, 2015

 

If HHSC disagrees with the hearings officer’s decision, HHSC may ask for a review via the exception process.

If the respondent disagrees with the hearings officer’s decision, the respondent may ask for an administrative review.

An administrative review is when HHSC Regional Legal Services reviews a hearings officer’s decision on an administrative disqualification hearing. The assigned attorney reviews the hearing record and issues a new decision.

An administrative review must be requested within 30 calendar days of the date on the decision. The request for a review is sent to the hearings administrator at:

Hearings Administrator
Mail Code W-613
P.O. Box 149030
Austin, TX 78714

Exception: The 30 days does not start until the hearings officer issues a new decision if the respondent or respondent’s representative is working with the hearings officer to reopen or reschedule the hearing.

Upon receipt of an administrative or judicial review request or an exception request, follow procedures in Section 2100, Administrative Review — 1 TAC §§357.701-703, through Section 2450, Hearing Manager’s Responsibility in the Exception Process. The administrative disqualification procedures for administrative and judicial reviews and for exceptions are the same as those used for fair hearings.

 

4242 Effect of Nondetermination of Intentional Program Violation — 1 TAC §357.541

Revision 15-2; Effective November 20, 2015

 

If a hearings officer finds that the respondent did not commit an intentional program violation, the respondent will not be disqualified.

Although the hearings officer makes a decision about the intentional program violation, the respondent may appeal the amount of overpayment. The administrative disqualification hearing must be held and a decision issued before the fair hearing on the overpayment, unless the hearings officer holds both the administrative disqualification hearing and the fair hearing at the same time.

 

4243 Notice of Hearing Decision and the Effect on Remaining Household Members — 1 TAC §357.538

Revision 15-2; Effective November 20, 2015

 

The hearings officer informs the respondent of the decision in writing.

Within 15 calendar days of a hearings officer's written decision to disqualify the respondent, the HHSC Central Disqualification Unit informs the respondent of the effect of the hearings officer's decision. In dismissed cases or cases in which the hearings officer finds that the respondent did not commit an intentional program violation, the hearing decision is the final notice sent to the respondent. Except for dismissed, withdrawn and waived cases, the hearings officer informs the respondent of the decision on Form H4857, Notice of Decision, Administrative Disqualification Hearing. The hearings officer sends one copy each to the investigator and the respondent's representative. In addition, the hearings officer sends all “did commit” and “did not commit” ADH decisions (Form H4857 and order) electronically to the Central Disqualification Unit.

 

4244 Court Actions in Relation to Administrative Disqualification — 1 TAC §357.539

Revision 15-2; Effective November 20, 2015

 

A hearings officer does not have jurisdiction to hear or make a decision on a case that a court has already heard.

TANF and SNAP federal regulations allow a court of appropriate jurisdiction to order that a person be disqualified from participating in the program for the time periods described in 1 TAC §357.537, Effect of an Administrative Determination of Intentional Program Violation.

The state, a political subdivision of the state, or the United States may serve as prosecutor or plaintiff.

If the court fails to impose a disqualification period on a respondent who committed an intentional program violation, HHSC imposes one of the penalties described in 1 TAC §357.537. HHSC imposes the appropriate penalty unless the court order prohibits the penalty.

 

4245 Imposing a Disqualification

Revision 15-2; Effective November 20, 2015

 

HHSC must enforce administrative SNAP and TANF program disqualifications the first month after the month the household receives Form H4857, Notice of Decision, Administrative Disqualification Hearing. HHSC must enforce court-ordered SNAP disqualifications within 45 days of the date of the court decision.

If HHSC imposes the SNAP disqualification period after these limits, it is reduced by one month for each month or part of a month that the imposition is delinquent. Thus, a one-year disqualification period that was imposed two months late is reduced to 10 months. (However, the remaining two months are treated as overpayments due to HHSC error.)

When a SNAP and TANF respondent waives the hearing, HHSC must enforce the disqualification no later than the second month after the date the notice of disqualification was sent to the respondent.

 

4246 Consolidation of Administrative Disqualification Hearings and Fair Hearings — 1 TAC §357.542

Revision 15-2; Effective November 20, 2015

 

The hearings officer may combine a fair hearing and an administrative disqualification hearing to settle the amount of the claim at the same time as deciding whether or not an intentional program violation has occurred. To do this, the following conditions must exist:

At the respondent's request, the hearings officer must allow the respondent to waive the 30-day advance notice period that is required when a disqualification hearing and fair hearing are combined. If the respondent does not receive advance notice that the hearings will be combined, but decides to waive the advance notice requirement, the hearings officer obtains the respondent's signature on a waiver of notice. The hearings officer then proceeds with a fair hearing on the claim.

When a disqualification hearing and fair hearing are combined and the respondent does not waive the advance notice requirement, the hearings officer follows the time frames for holding disqualification hearings.

When the hearings are combined to settle the amount of the claim while deciding whether or not an intentional program violation has occurred, the respondent loses the right to a subsequent fair hearing on the amount of the claim.

When a respondent chooses to waive the advance notice requirement, the hearings officer documents in the decision (under procedural history) that the respondent waived the Notice of Administrative Disqualification Hearing.

FFHH, Appendices

FFHH, Appendix I, Fair Hearing Case Record Filing Guide

Revision 14-1; March 31, 2014

 

Always file the most current material on top of the appropriate section.

Left Side of Folder Right Side of Folder
Topmost item(s) are:

 

  • Fair hearing tracking sheet or Form H4809, Update After Fair Hearing Data Entry Form
Topmost item(s) are:
  • Decision cover letter
  • Fair hearing decision

Use tabs to separate the remaining items:

Correspondence: (most recent on top)

Examples include, but are not limited to:

  • Emails regarding the fair hearing
  • Form H4800, Fair Hearing Request Summary; Form H4803, Notice of Hearing; Form H4804, Request and Authorization for Fair Hearing Record to Remain Open; Form H4806, Request for Another Appointment - Request to Withdraw; and Form H4807, Action Taken on Hearing Decision
  • Appellant's statement of representation
  • Appellant's postponement request

Note: If any of these documents become exhibits, label and file under Exhibits Admitted instead.

Administrative Review: (for use as needed)

 

Examples include, but are not limited to:

  • Appellant's administrative review request and any accompanying documents
  • Hearings administrator email
  • Email with name of attorney assigned to review
  • Emails relating to decision and/or review
  • Recording of hearing (tape or CD)
Reopen: (for use as needed)

 

  • Appellant’s request to reopen appeal and any accompanying documents
Exhibits Not Admitted: (for use as needed)

 

  • Items determined irrelevant or otherwise inadmissible by the hearings officer
  • Items provided to the hearings officer, but not offered by participants
  • Duplicates of exhibits admitted
Exhibits Admitted:

 

  • File exhibits in ascending numeric order

FFHH, Appendix II, Area Boxes and E-mail Addresses

Revision 10-1; January 15, 2010

 

A general e-mail box is assigned to each of the five areas under the Fair Hearings section. This should be used to e-mail Form H1800-A, Fair Hearing Request Summary (Addendum).

Regions E-mail Address
01, 02, 05 and 10 HHSC Reg12510appeals@hhsc.state.tx.us
3 HHSC Reg03appeals@hhsc.state.tx.us
04 and 07 HHSC Reg04_07appeals@hhsc.state.tx.us
06 HHSC Reg06appeals@hhsc.state.tx.us
08 and 11 HHSC Reg8/11appeals@hhsc.state.tx.us
All Regions (ADHs) HHSC admindisqualhear@hhsc.state.tx.us

FFHH, Appendix III, Distribution Schedule

Revision 10-1; January 15, 2010

 

Appeals Received via TIERS

Agency Rep 4803
Batch
4803
Alert/TLM
Decision Alert Dismiss Decision Emailed Withdraw
Decision Emailed
Sustain
Decision Emailed
Reversed Decision Emailed
OES      
DADS    
HMOs      
TMHP      
OIG      
DSHS/ PCS      
DSHS/ MH      
               
Other Participant    

 

Notes:

  1. Effective Dec. 21, 2009, 4803s to agency reps will not be batched if an alert is generated.
  2. If the 4803 is generated in batch or an alert is generated, it is not necessary to e-mail an appointment notice.
  3. Effective June 1, 2009, send TMHP sustain and reverse decisions to the CARD e-mail address at: card@tmhp.com.
  4. Send OES sustained and reversed decisions to the OES Fair Hearing e-mail address at: oesfairhearing@hhsc.state.tx.us.

FFHH, Appendix IV, Partial Settlement Agreement, Exhibit B

Revision 10-4; July 16, 2010

 

Partial Settlement Agreement, Exhibit B

FFHH, Appendix V, Health Plan Management

Revision 11-4; June 1, 2011

 

 Health Plan Management

FFHH, Appendix VI, Decision Issuance Codes

Revision 11-4; June 1, 2011

 

When the hearings officer issues a decision in TIERS, he must choose the appropriate decision from the Nature of Decision drop down box. TIERS generates reports that list and/or count the various types of decisions issued. The reports list the decision issuance code rather than spelling out the nature of decision.

Decision Issuance Code Definition
DN Dismiss-90 day; no jurisdiction
DM Dismiss- Failure to Appear
DJ Dismiss-Other
RB

Reversed-Benefits Due

RI

Reversed-Information Needed

RN

Reversed-No Benefits Due

ST

Sustain

WF

Withdrawn-Favorable Action

WN

Withdrawn-Sustained

FFHH, Appendix VII, Administrative Disqualification Hearing (ADH) Case Record Filing Guide

Revision 14-1; March 31, 2014

 

Always file the most current material on top of the appropriate section.

Left Side of Folder Right Side of Folder

Topmost item(s) are:

  • ADH tracking sheet
  • MAPPER entry screen printout
  • AVAYA printout

 

Topmost item(s) are:

  • Decision cover letter
  • Form H4857, Notice of Decision, Administrative Disqualification Hearing
  • ADH decision

Use tabs to separate the remaining items:

Correspondence: (most recent on top)

Examples include, but are not limited to:

  • Email requesting the ADH
  • ADH case summary
  • Form H4851-C, Notice of Administrative Disqualification Hearing
  • Form H4856, Request for Another Appointment for Administrative Disqualification Hearing
  • USPS certified mail receipt
  • USPS domestic return receipt
  • Respondent’s statement of representation

Note: If any of these documents become exhibits, label and file under Exhibits Admitted instead.

Administrative Review: (for use as needed)

  • Respondent’s administrative review request and any accompanying documents

 

Reopen: (for use as needed)

  • Respondent’s reopen request and any accompanying documents

 

Exhibits Admitted:

  • File exhibits in ascending order.
  • When items are offered independently, label them as the next logical exhibit number or letter. Example: Exhibits A through E are offered. Then an Office of Inspector General (OIG) representative offers five additional pages which are not included in A through E and are not labeled. These pages should be numbered one to five and labeled as exhibit F.

Exhibits Not Admitted:

  • Items determined irrelevant or otherwise inadmissible by the hearings officer
  • Items provided to the hearings officer, but not offered by participants
  • Duplicates of exhibits already admitted

FFHH, Appendix VIII, Counties Serviced by Region

Revision 15-2; November 20, 2015

 

Region Counties Serviced
Region 1: High Plains Armstrong, Bailey, Briscoe, Carson, Castro, Childress, Cochran, Collingsworth, Crosby, Dallam, Deaf Smith, Dickens, Donley, Floyd, Garza, Gray, Hale, Hall, Hansford, Hartley, Hemphill, Hockley, Hutchinson, King, Lamb, Lipscomb, Lubbock, Lynn, Moore, Motley, Ochiltree, Oldham, Parmer, Potter, Randall, Roberts, Sherman, Swisher, Terry, Wheeler, Yoakum
Region 2: Northwest Texas Archer, Baylor, Brown, Callahan, Clay, Coleman, Comanche, Cottle, Eastland, Fisher, Foard, Hardeman, Haskell, Jack, Jones, Kent, Knox, Mitchell, Montague, Nolan, Runnels, Scurry, Shackelford, Stonewall, Stephens, Taylor, Throckmorton, Wichita, Wilbarger, Young
Region 3: Metroplex Collin, Cooke, Dallas, Denton, Ellis, Erath, Fannin, Grayson, Hood, Hunt, Johnson, Kaufman, Navarro, Palo Pinto, Parker, Rockwall, Somervell, Tarrant, Wise
Region 4: Upper East Texas Anderson, Bowie, Camp, Cass, Cherokee, Delta, Franklin, Gregg, Harrison, Henderson, Hopkins, Lamar, Marion, Morris, Panola, Rains, Red River, Rusk, Smith, Titus, Upshur, Van Zandt, Wood
Region 5: Southeast Texas Angelina, Hardin, Houston, Jasper, Jefferson, Nacogdoches, Newton, Orange, Polk, Sabine, San Augustine, San Jacinto, Shelby, Trinity, Tyler
Region 6: Gulf Coast Austin, Brazoria, Chambers, Colorado, Fort Bend, Galveston, Harris, Liberty, Matagorda, Montgomery, Walker, Waller, Wharton
Region 7: Central Texas Bastrop, Bell, Blanco, Bosque, Brazos, Burleson, Burnet, Caldwell, Coryell, Falls, Fayette, Freestone, Grimes, Hamilton, Hays, Hill, Lampasas, Lee, Leon, Limestone, Llano, Madison, McLennan, Milam, Mills, Robertson, San Saba, Travis, Washington, Williamson
Region 8: Upper South Texas Atascosa, Bandera, Bexar, Calhoun, Comal, DeWitt, Dimmit, Edwards, Frio, Gillespie, Goliad, Gonzales, Guadalupe, Jackson, Karnes, Kendall, Kerr, Kinney, La Salle, Lavaca, Maverick, Medina, Real, Uvalde, Val Verde, Victoria, Wilson, Zavala
Region 9: West Texas Andrews, Borden, Coke, Concho, Crane, Crockett, Dawson, Ector, Gaines, Glasscock, Howard, Irion, Kimble, Loving, Martin, Mason, McCulloch, Menard, Midland, Pecos, Reagan, Reeves, Schleicher, Sterling, Sutton, Terrell, Tom Green, Upton, Ward, Winkler
Region 10: Upper Rio Grande Brewster, Culberson, El Paso, Hudspeth, Jeff Davis, Presidio
Region 11: Lower South Texas Aransas, Bee, Brooks, Cameron, Duval, Hidalgo, Jim Hogg, Jim Wells, Kenedy, Kleberg, Live Oak, McMullen, Nueces, Refugio, San Patricio, Starr, Webb, Willacy, Zapata

FFHH, Forms

Form Title
H4800 Fair Hearing Request Summary
H4800-A Fair Hearing Request Summary (Addendum)
H4800-ADH Request for Administrative Disqualification Hearing
H4803 Notice of Hearing
H4803-P Notice of Hearing
H4803-T Informacion en espanol Notice of Hearing
H4804 Request and Authorization for Fair Hearing Record to Remain Open
H4805 Fair Hearing Procedures
H4806 Request for Another Appointment - Request to Withdraw
H4807 Action Taken on Hearing Decision
H4809 Update After Fair Hearing Data Entry Form
H4811 Confirmation of Verbal Request to Cancel Appeal
H4827 Withdrawal of Appeal Request
H4833 Appeals Information
H4851-C Notice of Administrative Disqualification Hearing
H4851-F Informacion en espanol Notice of Administrative Disqualification Hearing
H4851-T Notice of Administrative Disqualification Hearing
H4852 Informacion en espanol Administrative Disqualification Hearing - Withdrawn - Unscheduled
H4853 Informacion en espanol Administrative Disqualification Hearing - Withdrawn - Scheduled
H4855 Informacion en espanol Statement of Household Member's Rights in Administrative Disqualification Hearing
H4856 Request for Another Appointment for Administrative Disqualification Hearing
H4857 Notice of Decision, Administrative Disqualification Hearing
H4858 Informacion en espanol Administrative Disqualification Hearing - Waived - Unscheduled
H4859 Informacion en espanol Administrative Disqualification Hearing - Waived - Scheduled
H4861 Informacion en espanol Receipt of Notice

 

FFHH, Revisions

FFHH, Revision Notice 15-2, Section 4000 Revised; Appendix VIII Added; Administrative Disqualification Hearing Forms Revised and Added

Revision Notice 15-2; Effective November 20, 2015

 

The following changes were made:

Revised Title Change
4000 Administrative Disqualification Hearings Revises entire section.
Appendix VIII Counties Serviced by Region Adds new appendix listing all counties served by each region.
Form H4800-ADH Request for Administrative Disqualification Hearing Adds new form.
Form H4851-F Notice of Administrative Disqualification Hearing Changes form number from H4851 to H4851-F and replaces current version with an accessible version.
Form H4852 Administrative Disqualification Hearing – Withdrawn - Unscheduled Adds new form in English and Spanish.
Form H4853 Administrative Disqualification Hearing – Withdrawn - Scheduled Adds new form in English and Spanish.
Form H4858 Administrative Disqualification Hearing – Waived - Unscheduled Adds new form in English and Spanish.
Form H4859 Administrative Disqualification Hearing – Waived - Scheduled Adds new form in English and Spanish.
Form H4861 Receipt of Notice Revises form to add cell for Appeal ID and replaces current version with an accessible version.

FFHH, 15-1, Section 4212 Revised

Revision Notice 15-1; Effective February 10, 2015

 

The following change was made:

Revised Title Change
4212 Household Member's Rights During Hearing — 1 TAC §357.530 Adds that all open records requests should be sent to the hearings administrator.

FFHH, 14-5, Section 2410 Revised

Revision Notice 14-5; Effective December 10, 2014

 

The following change was made:

Revised Title Change
2410 General Clarifies that program staff have 20 calendar days to request an exception to a fair hearing decision.

FFHH, 14-4, Sections 1723, 1728 and 2141.1 Revised

Revision Notice 14-4; Effective November 14, 2014

 

The following changes were made:

Revised Title Change
1723 Delays in Issuing a Decision — 1 TAC §357.23(a)(3) Adds “the agency” to delay codes A and B. Also deletes the following note: “AVAYA malfunctions are not considered circumstances ‘beyond the agency's control.’”
1728 Request to Reopen — 1 TAC §357.23(f) Adds the following sentence: “If the appellant offers information after the hearings officer has issued the original decision and the hearings officer decides the information is new and that it would have affected the outcome of the decision, the hearings officer reopens the hearing.”
2141.1 New Information Received During the Administrative Review Clarifies that if the appellant offers new information before the appeal goes to administrative review, the hearings officer reviews the information to decide if it is new and if it would have changed the original decision.

FFHH, Frequently Asked Questions

Revision 10-4; July 16, 2010

 

How do I contact the Appeals Division in my area?

A contact list of all Hearings staff is posted to the Appeals Division website at http://hhscx.hhsc.state.tx.us/ChiefCounsel/Appeals/StaffList.pdf.

 

How do I file an appeal?

A client may request an appeal as a result of any of agency action. The directions for requesting an appeal are included with the notice of agency action. A client also may appeal if program fails to take action on a request for services. See Section 1200, Notice.

 

Will I be contacted for my scheduled hearing? How do I participate?

You will receive an appointment notice or an alert through the TIERS system from the hearings officer assigned to your appeal. The notice will state the date, time and location of the hearing. Most hearings are held via conference call, and in most cases you must call in to a conference line. The call-in information will be included in the notice. See Section 1410, Notice of Fair Hearing.

 

How long do I wait for a decision on my hearing?

Hearings officers must not take longer than 90 days (60 days for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)) from the date of the request for an appeal until initiating retroactive benefits. There are circumstances that could result in an extension of these timeframes. See Section 1711, Time Frame.

 

What can I do if I disagree with the hearings officer’s decision?

If you disagree with the hearings officer’s decision, you may request a review. However, a new decision is not issued in most cases. See Section 2300, Exception Process for Agency and Program Staff.

 

Can program staff resolve the issue on appeal before the actual hearing?

If during a review of the case prior to the hearing program staff discover an error, they may correct the error and notify the client.

If you provide additional information that you have not previously provided, you should receive a notice in response. If your case has been denied, you usually have the right to reapply and have your circumstances considered while waiting for the fair hearing. This does not affect the outcome of the fair hearing.

 

Am I required to send any information for my hearing?

Agency staff are required to send an evidence packet to both the hearings officer and the client before the hearing. See Section 1562.4, Agency Responsibilities.

 

How can I prepare for my hearing?

You should send all documents to be used at the hearing to both the hearings officer and the client at least 10 days before the hearing date. See Section 1562.4, Agency Responsibilities.

 

Can I speak to the hearings officer before the hearing?

The hearings officer may not speak to either party to the appeal before the hearing takes place, or after the hearing, but before issuing a written decision. See Section 1550, Private (Ex Parte) Communication.

 

What can I do if I do not understand the hearings officer’s decision?

Program staff may contact the hearings office if clarification is needed on a decision.

 

Will I receive information that will be discussed at the hearing?

If the hearings officer receives information from the client before the hearing, the documents will be forwarded to the agency representative for review.

 

If I get continued benefits with my appeal, do I have to repay any continued benefits I received?

The agency has the right to recoup any monies spent providing continued benefits if the hearing decision upholds the action taken by the agency. See Section 1320, Continued Benefits.

 

What are the time frames to file an appeal?

The client has 90 days from the date of the denial notice or agency action effective date to request a fair hearing. For exceptions to the 90-day time frame, see Section 1240, Time Period for Requesting a Fair Hearing.

 

What if the client missed the time frames for requesting an appeal?

The client may still request an appeal after the 90-day time frame has passed. The hearings officer will determine if the client had good cause for failure to file timely. Program staff should complete Form H4800, Fair Hearing Request Summary, and submit it to hearings staff within five days of the request. See Section 1240, Time Period for Requesting a Fair Hearing.

 

What if I do not attend the hearing?

If you do not attend the hearing, the hearings officer will address the absence in the hearing record and issue a reversed decision. See Section 1564.1, When the Agency Representative Does Not Appear for the Hearing.

 

Do I have to attend in person?

Most hearings are held by telephone; however, the client may request a face-to-face hearing. See Section 1562.4, Agency Responsibilities.

 

What if I cannot attend the scheduled hearing?

If you are unavailable to attend the hearing, you will need to work with your supervisor to ensure an agency representative is available.

 

What happens if I forget to tell the hearings officer something?

You may either call the hearings office at the telephone number listed at the bottom of the appointment notice or you may mail the additional information to the hearings officer at the address listed on the appointment notice.

 

What can I expect in a fair hearing?

The hearings officer will explain what will happen and swear everyone it. First, the agency representative will be given an opportunity to present the agency’s case and offer exhibits. Then the client will have an opportunity to ask questions and present his or her case.

 

What kinds of appeals are heard by the Fair and Fraud Hearings section?

The Fair and Fraud Hearings section handles TANF, SNAP, all Medicaid-funded services and all other agency programs that are required by state or federal law to provide the right to a fair hearing. See Section 1131, Authority and the Right to Appeal.

 

How do I ask for a pre-hearing conference?

You may request a pre-hearings conference by contacting the hearings office assigned to the appeal. See Section 1512, Pre-hearing Conference — General.

 

How long does a hearing last?

The length of the hearing depends on the complexity and type of issue on appeal. You should plan on a minimum of one hour. If it is anticipated that the hearing will last longer, you will be notified by the hearings officer during the hearing.

 

How do I get a copy of my case file?

The client is eligible to receive a copy of their entire case file before the hearing, upon request.

 

Are program staff allowed to work on any new actions while an appeal is pending?

Program staff may process any new actions, such as processing a new application or a reported change.

 

Frequently Asked Questions—Client

 

How do I contact the Appeals Division in my area?

If you have received an appointment notice regarding your appeal, the contact information is at the bottom of the page. If you have not received a notice, you may contact 2-1-1 or your caseworker to obtain the telephone number for the Appeals Division in your area. Appeals are heard by hearings officers across the state.

 

How do I file an appeal?

If you have received a notice of agency action, instructions for requesting an appeal are included on the notice. If you have not received a notice, you may contact 2-1-1 or your caseworker. An appeal may be requested in person, by telephone or mail. A client also may appeal if program fails to take action on a request for services. See Section 1200, Notice.

 

Will I be contacted for my scheduled hearing or how do I participate?

You will receive an appointment notice from the hearings officer assigned to your appeal. The notice will state the date, time and location of the hearing. Most hearings are held by telephone and in most cases; you must call in to a conference line. The call-in information will be included in the notice. See Section 1410, Notice of Fair Hearing.

 

How long do I wait for a decision on my hearing?

Hearings officers must not take longer than 90 days (60 days for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)) from the date of the request for an appeal to issue a decision. There are circumstances that could result in an extension of these time frames. See Section 1711, Time Frames.

 

What can I do if I disagree with the hearings officer’s decision?

You may request an administrative review if you do not agree with the hearings officer’s decision. Decisions are reviewed and a new decision is issued. See Section 2100, Process and Time Frames for Administrative and Judicial Review.

 

Can program staff resolve the issue on appeal before the actual hearing?

If during a review of the case prior to the hearing program staff discover an error, they may correct the error and notify the client.

 

If you provide additional information that you have not previously provided, you should receive a notice in response. If your case has been denied, you usually have the right to reapply and have your circumstances considered while waiting for the fair hearing. This does not affect the outcome of the fair hearing.

 

Can I have a pre-hearing conference?

The hearings officer may schedule a pre-hearing conference if it is necessary to resolve issues before the hearing. See Section 1512, Pre-hearing Conference.

 

Am I required to send any information for my hearing?

You are not required to send any information. If you have any documents that prove your side, you may send them to the hearings officer before the hearing. See Section 1562.1, Appellant’s Rights.

 

How can I prepare for my hearing?

You can review the documents the agency representative will be using at the hearing. If you have any documents you would like the hearings officer to consider, send them to the hearings officer before the hearing. See Section 1562.1, Appellant’s Rights.

 

What do I do if I need interpreter services, sign language assistance or other special accommodations?

You should let the hearings officer know before the hearing that you will need assistance in any of these areas. See Section 1562.3, Appellant’s Responsibilities.

 

Can I bring my child as a interpreter?

You may bring your child to assist you with presenting your case. HHSC provides qualified interpreters at hearings, when needed. See Section 1580, Interpreters.

 

Can I speak to the hearings officer before the hearing?

The hearings officer may not speak to either party to the appeal before the hearing takes place, or after the hearing, but before issuing a written decision. This ensures a fair and unbiased hearing for all involved parties. See Section 1550, Private (Ex Parte) Communication.

 

What can I do if I do not understand the hearings officer’s decision?

The cover letter instructs you to call the hearings officer if you do not understand the decision. See Section 1721, Components of a Hearing Decision.

 

Will I receive information that will be discussed at the hearing?

Yes, the agency representative is required to send a copy of the documents to be used at your hearing to both you and the hearings officer before the hearing. See Section 1562.1, Appellant’s Rights.

 

Can I apply for benefits if I have an appeal pending?

Yes, you may apply for benefits at any time. You do not have to wait for your hearing or a hearing decision

 

Can I receive continued benefits pending the outcome of my appeal?

Depending on the program and when you request an appeal, you may be able to receive continued benefits pending the outcome of the appeal. See Section 1320, Continued Benefits.

 

If I get continued benefits with my appeal, do I have to repay any continued benefits I received?

The agency may ask you to pay back the money spent providing continued benefits if the hearings officer upholds the action taken by the agency. See Section 1220, Content of Notice.

 

Can someone represent me in a hearing? Can others participate with me at the hearing?

You have the right to ask someone to represent you at the hearing and to help you state your case. You also may invite other individuals who may provide additional information. See Section 1530, Attendance at Hearing, and Section 1562.1, Appellant’s Rights.

 

What are the time frames to file an appeal?

You have 90 days from the date of the denial notice to request a fair hearing. For exceptions to the 90-day time frame, see Section 1240, Time Period for Requesting a Fair Hearing.

 

What if I missed the time frame for requesting an appeal?

You still may request an appeal after the 90-day time frame; however, you will need to tell the hearings officer why you failed to request the appeal within the time frames. The hearings officer will decide if you had good cause for not submitting the appeal timely. See Section 1240, Time Period for Requesting a Fair Hearing.

 

What if I do not attend the hearing?

If you do not attend the hearing, the hearings officer will dismiss the request for a fair hearing. You will have 30 days from that date on the decision to ask the hearings officer to reopen your appeal. You will need to explain in writing why you did not attend the hearing. See Section 1564.2, When the Appellant Does Not Appear for the Hearing, and Section 1724, Dismissals.

 

Do I have to attend in person?

Most hearings are held by telephone. The appointment date, time and call-in number are included in the appointment notice. You may request a face-to-face hearing. See Section 1411, Date and Location.

 

What if I cannot attend the scheduled hearing?

Most hearings are held by telephone. The appointment notice contains the date, time and location of the hearing. If it is a telephone hearing, the number to call for the hearing will be in the notice. See Section 1410, Notice of Fair Hearing.

 

If you know you will be unavailable for the date and time stated in the appointment notice, you can call the hearings office at the telephone number listed at the bottom of the appointment notice to ask that the hearing be rescheduled. You also can send a written request to the hearings officer using the form provided with your appointment notice.

 

What happens if I forget to tell the hearings officer something?

You either may call the hearings office at the telephone number listed at the bottom of the appointment notice or you may mail the additional information to the hearings officer at the address listed on the appointment notice. If the hearings officer determines the information is relevant to the case, the information will be shared and the hearing will may be reconvened.

 

What can I expect in a fair hearing?

Once everyone is in attendance, the hearings officer will explain what will happen and swear in everyone. Then the agency representative will explain the action they took on your case. You will then have a chance to ask questions and explain why you disagree with the action or inaction taken by the agency.

 

What kinds of appeals are heard by the Fair and Fraud Hearings section?

The Fair and Fraud Hearings section handles TANF, SNAP, all Medicaid-funded services and all other agency programs that are required by state or federal law to provide the right to a fair hearing. See Section 1131, Authority and the Right to Appeal.

 

How do I know the appeal process is fair?

The hearings officer is required by state and federal law to be impartial and must be a person who has no prior knowledge of the case. The hearings officer may only consider evidence and testimony provided at the hearing when making a decision on the case. See Section 1721, Components of a Hearing Decision.

 

How many times can I appeal the same issue?

If you are not satisfied with the action taken by the agency, you may request an appeal. If you disagree with the hearings officer’s decision, you may request an administrative review. If you disagree with the outcome of the administrative review, you may request a judicial review by filing in the district courts in Travis County. See Section 2100, Process and Timeframes for Administrative and Judicial Review.

 

How do I ask for a pre-hearing conference?

You may contact the hearings staff by calling the telephone number at the bottom of the appointment notice and asking for a pre-hearings conference. The hearings officer may schedule a pre-hearings conference to resolve issues. See Section 1512, Pre-hearing Conference.

 

How long does a hearing last?

The length of the hearing depends on the complexity and type of issue on appeal. You should plan on a minimum of one hour. If it is anticipated that the hearing will last longer, you will be notified by the hearings officer during the hearing.

 

Do I have to have an attorney?

No, you do not need to have an attorney. You may have an attorney represent you at the hearing at your own expense. See Section 1562.1, Appellant’s Rights.

 

Can I record the hearing?

Yes, you may record the hearing. However, the “official” record of the hearing is the recording made by the hearings officer. See Section 1530, Attendance at Hearing.

 

How do I get a copy of the hearing recording?

You may request a copy of the hearing recording from the hearings officer. See Section 1530, Attendance at Hearing.

 

How do I get a copy of my case file?

A copy of the documents used to make the decision on the issue on appeal will be sent to you before the hearing. To obtain a copy of your entire case file, you may contact your caseworker, your caseworker’s supervisor, the ombudsman’s office or the hearings officer.

 

Are program staff allowed to work on any new actions while an appeal is pending?

Program staff may process any new actions, such as processing a new application or a reported change.

 

Can I appeal a collection notice?

You can appeal a notice of overpayment. See Section 1410, Notice of Fair Hearing.

 

FFHH, Contact Us

For questions about administrative hearings and the appeal process, please email: contact@hhsc.state.tx.us

For technical or accessibility issues with this handbook, email: handbookfeedback@hhsc.state.tx.us

FFHH, Introduction and Purpose

The Fair and Fraud Hearings section of the Appeals Division, Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC), receives appeal requests from applicants and clients contesting actions taken regarding benefits and services of various programs. These include the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) (formerly known as the Food Stamp Program), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), all Medicaid-funded services, and other agency programs that are required by state or federal law, or rules, to provide the right to a fair hearing. Hearings officers conduct hearings, consider evidence and issue decisions in accordance with rules, regulations and state and federal law.

The Fair and Fraud Hearings Handbook provides guidance on the appeal process for applicants, clients, client representatives, program representatives and hearings officers.

FFHH, Mission Statement

The mission of the Health and Human Services Commission Fair and Fraud Hearings section is to provide an accessible, neutral forum for conducting administrative hearings for Texans while issuing just and impartial decisions with respect for the dignity of individuals and their due process rights.