An Administrative Disqualification Hearing (ADH) is a formal, impartial review by a Hearing Judge for the purpose of rendering a decision as to whether or not an individual committed an intentional program violation (IPV).
An IPV is any action by an individual which is a willful or intentional false statement, a concealment of a fact or a misrepresentation, whether or not it resulted or could have resulted in receipt of additional benefits.
Failure to report on a timely basis does not necessarily constitute an IPV. The criteria for establishing the IPV requires an intentional act of deception, or one taken with an appreciation or understanding of its consequences or wrongfulness and must be proven by a clear and convincing legal standard of proof. Clear and convincing proof requires more than a preponderance of the evidence but less than proof beyond a reasonable doubt. Legally, clear and convincing is where the truth of the facts asserted is highly probable.
In addition, there are also specific acts defined as IPVs that are related to program enforcement such as misuse of EBT cards and SNAP trafficking offenses. These generally constitute an IPV by the demonstrated performance of the particular act.
Administrative Disqualification Hearing (ADH) must be initiated for individuals accused of committing an IPV when criminal charges are not being pursued. ADH procedures and requirements, EXCEPT for the notice of hearing as explained below, are the same as for appeal hearings. See 0027 (Appeals).
REFERRAL OF IPVS
Resolve cases of suspected IPVs through either the criminal or ADH process, not both. Do not make concurrent referrals for prosecution and ADH. The practice of resolving an IPV first through the ADH process and then referring the same IPV for prosecution is prohibited.
If a case is dismissed in court, an ADH may be pursued because the burden of proof in establishing an IPV in an ADH action is the lower “clear and convincing” test as opposed to the “any reasonable doubt” standard required in a criminal prosecution.
ADH WAIVERS AND REQUESTS FOR ADH
Upon identifying an IPV and determining that the ADH process will be pursued, the accused individual must be offered the opportunity to waive the appearance before a Hearing Judge and simply agree to the prescribed disqualification penalties.
Initiate the ADH process by completing the Notice of Intentional Program Violation – Waiver of Administrative Disqualification Hearing (DHS-3131). Prepare a narrative summary of the allegations, investigative findings, and the evidence to support the findings. Someone other than the assigned case worker must also review and sign the form and find that the case facts, if proven, would justify a finding of fraud. The waiver allows the client to admit to the facts or not, with the understanding that the disqualification penalty will be imposed in either case. Present or mail the ADH Waiver to the client. In either case, allow the client up to 10 days to return the form.
Waivers should not be offered when there is only a suspicion of guilt but the evidence is not convincing. If a county agency determines that it has sufficient evidence to hold a hearing and has offered the individual an opportunity to waive the hearing, the agency must then schedule a hearing if the individual requests a hearing or does not sign the wavier. Do not offer an ADH waiver if the case is being referred for prosecution nor should prosecution be suggested as a threat if the waiver is not signed. If an ADH waiver is offered it should be because the county has already determined that an ADH is appropriate and is merely offering the individual the opportunity to opt out of the actual hearing.
If the client waives his/her right to a hearing, disqualify the person. See 0025.24.06 (Disqualification for Fraud).
Clients have the right to revoke a signed waiver and request an ADH be held. This revocation must be in writing and be received by the county agency prior to the effective date of the proposed disqualification or within 30 days of the date the waiver was signed, whichever is earlier.
If the client refuses to sign the waiver, requests to have a hearing, or fails to return the waiver, refer the case for an ADH. Complete the Request for Administrative Disqualification Hearing (DHS-3132) and send to:
Minnesota Department of Human Services
P.O. Box 64941
St. Paul, MN 55164-0941
Upon receipt of the Request for Administrative Disqualification Hearing (DHS-3132), the Office of Appeals will either accept or deny the request. If denied, the county agency will receive a notice indicating the reason for the denial. Denied requests may be resubmitted to the Office of Appeals for reevaluation.
ADH requests may be withdrawn anytime before the scheduled hearing date with written notice to both the client and the Office of Appeals.
If the Office of Appeals accepts a request it will schedule a hearing date and send the client and county agency a notice of hearing. The notice will include a copy of the summary prepared by the county agency. Federal regulations require the Office of Appeals to give notice of an ADH hearing at least 30 days in advance (unless the client waives the hearing), rather than the 5-day notice for a regular fair hearing.
A judge may combine a fair hearing and ADH into a single hearing if the factual issues arise out of the same or related circumstances. The client must receive 30 days advance notice (unless waived) that the hearings will be combined.
Within 90 days of client notification of an ADH or a combined hearing, the Office of Appeals must conduct the hearing, reach a decision, and notify the client and county agency of the decision.
Unlike fair hearings, asking the appeals office to reconsider their decision is not an option. If either party disagrees with the Judge’s decision, they may start an appeal in district court. This is a separate legal proceeding that must start within 30 days of the date of the decision.
People found guilty of fraud by an ADH determination are subject to the disqualification procedures in 0025.24.06 (Disqualification for Fraud).
ADH INVESTIGATIVE SUBPOENA
Subpoena authority is available to county agencies for gathering information in the investigative stage necessary to develop a basis for establishing and proving an IPV that will be pursued through the ADH process.
Consider using an investigative subpoena when a third party refuses to provide information. Complete the Request for Investigative Subpoena (DHS-3436) form and send to the DHS Appeals and Regulations Division. Include a description of the information being requested and the relevance of the information to establishing the IPV.
These subpoenas are not self-enforcing in that a first refusal to obey will not result in a contempt citation. However, these subpoenas are enforceable by appealing to district court for their enforcement by issue of a district court subpoena.