A Fair Hearing is a way for you to challenge decisions made against you by the City (HRA, or, the agency) about public assistance, food stamps, Medicaid, and emergency shelter. It is a chance for you to tell your side of the story and the agency to tell theirs. An Administrative Law Judge, also known as a Hearing Officer, hears the case and decides who is correct. A decision is later mailed to you.
You should ask for a fair hearing to challenge any negative changes in your benefits made by your center or, to challenge something that has happened in your case that you do not agree with. If you do not request a fair hearing and your time limit to request one passes, you forfeit your right to challenge the agency’s decision or any changes made and will not be able to do anything about it.
Immediately. To protect your rights, ask for a fair hearing the moment you are informed (in writing or in person) that something you not agree with will change with your benefits. If you are a current benefits recipient but did not get written notice in the mail (Notice of Decision or Notice of Intent) informing you of changes in your benefits, you may still request a fair hearing.
Yes. You have 10 days from the date on the notice you receive that tells you that a change will occur on your case, to request a fair hearing and get aid continuing. After these 10 days you may still request a fair hearing (60 days for cash assistance and Medicaid & 90 days for food stamps) but you will not get aid continuing. If you did not get a notice in the mail, there is no time limit for requests but you may or may not get aid continuing.
Aid continuing means your benefits will stay the same until you have a fair hearing and a decision is made, so long as you requested your hearing within 10 days of the date on the Notice of Intent or Notice of Decision. You may also get aid continuing if you never received a notice. There is no aid continuing for application denials or shelter stay denials. Tip: Always keep the envelopes that notices from the agency come in. The date stamped on the envelope may help you prove, if necessary, that it was mailed late and you were not able to request a fair hearing with aid continuing within the required 10 days.
You can request a fair hearing by telephone, fax, email or in writing. We suggest you not mail your fair hearing requests because of delays in processing these requests which could harm your case. When faxing or emailing, please keep copy of fax transmissions and email confirmations. On the telephone, please ask the name of the State employee serving you.
To request a fair hearing:
▪ Fair Hearing Request Form: http://otda.ny.gov/oah/form-request.pdf or
▪ E-Request Form: http://otda.ny.gov/oahforms/erequestform.aspx
▪ By Fax: Send your fax request 518-473-6735
▪ By Telephone: 518-474-8781; Toll Free in NYS: 1-800-342-3334
▪ By Mail: Send your filled out fair hearing request to:
Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA)
Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH)
P.O. BOX 1930
Albany, N.Y. 12201-1930
▪ In Person (NYC only): OTDA Office of Administrative Hearings at 14 Boerum Place, 1st Floor, Brooklyn, NY 11201
Yes. Please keep a copy of your fair hearing request or the fair hearing number that you are given if you request a fair hearing on the telephone. This may help you later on if there is a dispute as to whether or not you made a request, what date the request was made, and what issues you requested for discussion at the fair hearing. Once the fair hearing request is processed, you should receive an acknowledgment form in the mail stating the issues for the fair hearing. A scheduling notice from OTDA in Albany will follow in the mail.
You can ask for an emergency fair hearing to get a date faster if you do not have a place to live and were just denied a shelter stay, you have a notice of eviction from your housing, or your gas or electricity is about to be turned off. An emergency fair hearing can be decided faster than other hearings. In NYC to request an emergency fair hearing call 1(800) 205-0110.
You may request an adjournment or the reopening of a fair hearing in a few ways. You can request either by 1) filling out an Online Request, or, E-Request, 2) by mailing or faxing the printable form, 3) by calling Albany on the telephone, or, 4) in person.
OnlineE-Request to Adjourn or Reopen http://otda.ny.gov/oahforms/eadjournment.aspx
Printable Request to Adjourn (Change) or Reopen a Fair Hearing: http://otda.ny.gov/oah/form-adjournment.pdf. You should print this
form and fax it to the number listed at the top of the form.
Request to Adjourn/Reopen on Telephone: http://otda.ny.gov/oah/FHAdj.asp#phone
Request to Adjourn/Reopen in Person: (NYC & Albany only) http://otda.ny.gov/oah/FHAdj.asp#visit
If you no longer need a fair hearing on the issues you requested, you may withdraw the request for the hearing before your fair hearing date. You should only withdraw the fair hearing request if the problem(s) for which you requested the hearing has/have been corrected. You can follow this link to find out how to cancel your fair hearing: http://otda.ny.gov/oah/FHWith.asp
What if I cancelled my Fair Hearing because the agency told me they would fix my benefits, but they did not make the changes?
You may have had a Conciliation appointment, a Conference, or a Mandatory Dispute Resolution (MDR) at you center to discuss your fair hearing issues before your fair hearing date. Sometimes the agency agrees that they made an error and will correct the problem on your case and/or give you back retroactive benefits for the period in question. Often times when this happens the agency will give you something in writing that says that the issue is settled and ask you to withdraw your fair hearing. It is okay to do this if you have been given something in writing from the agency that reflects the agency’s decision, but, keep a copy of the documentation the agency gives you and keep a copy of your original fair hearing acknowledgment notice of fair hearing appointment notice. If you withdraw your fair hearing and the agency does not do what it said it would, you can call Fair Hearings in Albany and ask them to reopen your original fair hearing on this issue. You should NOT ask for a new fair hearing as the time limit to request a hearing on your issues may have already expired.
If you cannot find childcare, and you are not able to change the date of your hearing, you should take your children with you to your fair hearing, if at all possible. It is very important that you not miss you fair hearing date and time. If the ALJ asks you why your children are with you, tell him/her that you had no one to take care of them.
You should try to arrive for your fair hearing at least 30 minutes before your appointment time. If you are late to your fair hearing, you may be defaulted. What this means is that you will not be able to have your fair hearing heard on that same day or in some cases, not at all. If you are late you must provide “good cause” as to why you could not make it on time to your hearing. When possible, have documentation or proof with you.
If you forget your fair hearing date or miss it, you may get defaulted. This means that your hearing will be taken off the scheduled calendar and will not be heard. If you missed your fair hearing date, you may be able to get it restored/rescheduled if you contact the Office of Administrative Hearings with a good cause reason for failing to appear at the hearing on the scheduled date. The request to reopen the hearing must be made no more than one year from the date of the missed fair hearing. You may call Fair Hearings to make the request, or go in person to the Fair Hearing site in downtown Brooklyn and ask for your hearing to be reopened. If the clerk informs you that you will get a new fair hearing notice in the mail, please be sure to ask the clerk if a hearing with the same fair hearing number and issues is being re-scheduled. If he/she says no, please try to get the name of the clerk or window number and then visit the Project FAIR Help desk right away for further assistance.
Before your fair hearing, you have a right to request a free copy of the evidence packet for your fair hearing. The evidence packet is a collection of documents your center will give to the judge in support of its case against you. To get the evidence packet, call, fax, or write the HRA Division of Fair Hearings:
Phone: 718-722-5012 (for PA, FS & MA hearings)
Phone: 718-637-2425 (for Medicaid only hearings)
HRA Division of Fair Hearings
14 Boerum Place
Brooklyn, NY 11201
or, to make it simpler for you, print and fill out this form and follow the directions on the form: Pro se Request for Evidence Packet
To prepare for your fair hearing:
1) Please read or review the How to Win Your Fair Hearing booklet which will guide you step-by-step through the Fair Hearing process.
2) Consider visiting the Project FAIR Help Desk Monday through Fridays 12-3 PM to speak with an advocate about your case. Here is the Project FAIR Info Flyer.
3) Review this Checklist of Evidence for examples of things you might consider bringing to your hearing to support your case, depending on what your issue is.
4) Use Project FAIR’s List of Legal Services Providers and consider getting a lawyer or advocate to help you at your fair hearing. Project FAIR does not provide fair hearing representation but can refer you to other legal services options.
5) If you have an upcoming fair hearing on a medical exemption issue, get your doctor, psychologist or psychiatrist to fill out one or both of either the Physician’s Physical Impairment Form or Mental Impairment Form and take them with you to your fair hearing. These forms will assist the ALJ as well as the agency in determining whether or not you can fulfill their “work” requirement.
After the decision is made, your welfare center has 10 days to make the changes the ALJ ordered. If the agency does not do what the decision says, this is called non-compliance with a fair hearing decision. Welfare centers do not often comply with fair hearing decisions in a timely manner and sometimes may not obey the decision. If your center ignores the decision or is taking too long to comply with the decision, send a letter and a copy of the cover page of the Fair Hearing decision to the address listed on the form. In the letter, you should explain that your welfare center did not do what the decision said it should do. You may also take a copy of your fair hearing decision directly to your center and ask to speak with the Fair Hearing Compliance Unit Supervisor. This may or may not get your fair hearing decision looked at and processed a little faster.
You can request compliance with a Fair Hearing Decision by following this link: http://otda.ny.gov/oah/FHComp.asp
If you lose your fair hearing you can appeal the decision in court. You must file the appeal within 4 months of the date of the decision in New York State Supreme Court. It is best to contact your local legal services provider for more information.
If you choose to appeal an unfavorable decision, you will need to request a copy of a fair hearing transcript (the documents & recording) and write to:
Fair Hearing Transcript Unit
NYS Office of Temporary & Disability Assistance
P.O. Box 1930
Albany, NY 11201-1930