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Issue Alert - Hearing Process Revisions

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Date:

Jan 09, 2009

Program Area:

All Programs PAM 600

Issue Summary:

Steps for processing hearing requests have been updated.

Persons Affected:

All applicants and recipients of any program administered by the DHS or the DCH whose benefits are denied, delayed, reduced or terminated.

For More Information:

Center for Civil Justice 320 S. Washington, 2nd Floor Saginaw, MI 48607 (989) 755-3120, (800)724-7441 Fax: (989) 755-3558 E-mail: info@ccj-mi.org

Michigan Poverty Law Program 611 Church Street, Suite 4A Ann Arbor, MI 48104-3000 (734) 998-6100 (734) 998-9125 Fax (734) 998-9125 Email: lruby@umich.edu


Background

Every individual who applies for or is receiving benefits has a right to due process if those benefits are denied, reduced or stopped. The regulation that governs this process is PAM 600 (http://www.mfia.state.mi.us/olmweb/ex/pam/600.pdf). There is a 90 day deadline to request a hearing. If the client requests a hearing within 10 days of receiving a negative action notice, benefits will remain in place pending the outcome of the hearing. Recent changes have been made to clarify policy and make changes to existing policy.

What's Happening?

All clients have the right to request a hearing. The following people have authority to exercise this right by signing a hearing request:
• An adult member of the eligible group; or
• The client’s Authorized Hearing Representative.
Requests for a hearing must be made in writing and signed by one of the persons listed above. The request must bear a signature. Faxes or photocopies of signatures are acceptable. This is a change from past policy which did not accept faxed hearing requests and required an original signature. Should you or your client fax a hearing request, be sure to keep a copy and also the fax confirmation.

Hearing requests submitted after the 90 day deadline may be deemed invalid. However, the local office does not have the authority to make this determination. If a hearing request is submitted that the local office believes to be late or invalid for another reason, the local hearings coordinator must still submit the request to the State Office of Admininstrative Hearings and Rules (SOAHR). SOAHR will then decide whether or not to proceed with the hearing and will notify the client of its decision.

SOAHR may grant a hearing about any of the following:
• Denial of an application and/or supplemental payments.
• Reduction in the amount of program benefits or service.
• Suspension or termination of program benefits or service.
• Restrictions under which benefits or services are provided.
• Delay of any action beyond standards of promptness.
• For Food Assistance only, the current level of benefits or denial of expedited
service.

What Should Advocates Do?

Request hearings and encourage clients to request hearings when there is a question of whether or not action taken by the DHS is correct. Some of these can be resolved at a pre-hearing, and it is always possible to withdraw the hearing request if the matter is resolved. If you or your client choose to withdraw a hearing request, do not do so until the issue is fully resolved. Be sure to state very clearly on the withdrawal what action DHS has agreed to complete and when.

What Should Clients Do?

If you disagree with an action taken by DHS or DCH, request a hearing as soon as possible. Be sure to keep a copy of the request or fax verification.

Finding Help

Most legal aid and legal services offices handle these types of cases, and they do not charge a fee.

You can locate various sources of legal and related services, including the free legal aid office that serves your county, at MichiganLegalAid.org.

You can also look in the yellow pages under "attorneys" or call the toll-free lawyer referral number, (800) 968-0738.