Frequently asked questions about state appeal hearings

  • How to appeal
  • Is there a time limit on when I can appeal?
  • May I look at my case file before the hearing?
  • What if I need an interpreter or similar help at the hearing?
  • What is a hearing like?
  • How does the hearing start?
  • What if I am scheduled for a telephone hearing and I want the hearing to be in person or by videoconference?
  • May I bring a lawyer to the hearing?
  • May I bring someone to the hearing with me?
  • May I bring my children to the hearing?
  • How do I give evidence?
  • What if the witnesses won't come?
  • Who goes first?
  • May I ask the agency questions at the hearing?
  • What do I do when it's my turn?
  • What if I can't come to the hearing?
  • What if I miss a hearing?
  • Will the agency pay for the costs I have because of my appeal?
  • Is the hearing public?
  • May I talk to the human services judge (HSJ) privately without the agency being there?
  • May I file a new application while my appeal is going?
  • Will the HSJ make a decision at the hearing?
  • What if I disagree with the state's decision about my appeal?
  • What if I have questions about my appeal rights?
  • What about MNsure appeals?
  • List of legal services offices with their telephone numbers.
  • How to appeal

    Requesting a hearing is an easy thing to do. Your request for a hearing must be in writing. You or someone who represents you must sign the request. You can fill out a request form by filling out an Appeal to State Agency Form (DHS-0033). You can submit the form online or print it and mail it or fax it to the Appeals Office. With Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) appeals, you may make a verbal request for a hearing. Send or make the request to the agency whose action you are appealing or to:

    Appeals Office
    Minnesota Department of Human Services
    PO Box 64941
    St. Paul, MN 55164-0941
    Phone: 651-431-3600
    Fax: 651-431-7523

    Is there a time limit on when I can appeal?

    The request for a hearing must be received within 30 days after getting written notice of the agency's decision. If you show good cause for not appealing within this time limit, you may appeal up to 90 days. With SNAP, you may appeal up to 90 days after getting notice of the agency's decision and do not have to show good cause.

    After the state gets your request, it will set a date for a hearing. The state will tell you the exact date, time and place.

    May I look at my case file before the hearing?

    Yes. You have the right to look at your case file and any other papers the agency will use at the hearing. In fact, it’s a good idea to look at your file ahead of time. You have a right to free copies of any papers related to your hearing. Call the agency to set up an appointment if you want to see your file. If you have trouble getting this information, you can call or write the human services judge (HSJ) assigned to your case. The agency cannot use information at the hearing if it did not give you a chance to see it first.

    What if I need an interpreter or similar help at the hearing?

    If you need an interpreter to be at the hearing, call or write the HSJ as soon as possible. Tell the HSJ what help you need. The HSJ will make sure that an interpreter is at the hearing. These services are available to you at no charge.

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    What is a hearing like?

    The hearing is informal, but you must come prepared. The HSJ runs the hearing. The agency and you take turns giving evidence and asking questions. If you are unsure about what to do, you can ask the HSJ.

    How does the hearing start?

    The HSJ will turn on the recording device and explain how the hearing will run. The HSJ will write down the names of the people at the hearing. The HSJ also will ask that all people giving testimony take an oath to tell the truth.

    What if I am scheduled for a telephone hearing and I want the hearing to be in person or by videoconference?

    Most hearings are held by telephone, but you have the right to a hearing where you can see the HSJ in certain circumstances. Those hearings may be conducted either in person or by videoconference. Usually, an in-person hearing will only be held if you or a witness has a physical or mental disability that would impair your ability to fully participate in a hearing held by videoconference or if the HSJ thinks it is necessary to hold the hearing in person. If you want to see the HSJ at your hearing, call the HSJ and explain why you want an in-person or videoconference hearing. Your hearing may have to be rescheduled for a different day and time if the way the hearing is held is changed.

    May I bring a lawyer to the hearing?

    Yes. You may have a lawyer come with you to the hearing if you choose. The agency will not get a lawyer for you or pay for one. Call Legal Aid if you want free legal help. See the list of legal services offices with their telephone numbers.

    May I bring someone to the hearing with me?

    Yes. You may bring a friend or relative or anyone else with you to the hearing. That person may help you ask questions or explain your case to the HSJ.

    May I bring my children to the hearing?

    No, it is not a good idea to bring them with you unless they are going to take part in the hearing. For most appeals the agency will pay for child care while you are at the hearing. Ask the agency.

    How do I give evidence?

    You must back up your side of the case with evidence. This means you must bring all the papers you want the HSJ to see. You should tell the HSJ what you think the facts are. If you have any witnesses who know about your case, you can ask them to come to the hearing.

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    What if the witnesses won’t come?

    If you need a witness to come to the hearing or to hand over evidence to be used at the hearing, ask the witness to come or to give you what you need. Usually, a witness will come if you ask. If the witness says no, you can call the HSJ and ask for a subpoena. A subpoena is a legal order making someone come to the hearing and bring specific evidence that the person may have. It is your responsibility to serve the witness with a subpoena according to the legal rules.

    Who goes first?

    If the agency comes to the hearing, the HSJ will ask the agency to start first. The agency will tell the HSJ its view of the facts. The agency also will explain its reasons for handling your case the way it did. The agency representative will explain the laws and policies it used in your case.

    May I ask the agency representative questions at the hearing?

    You may ask the agency representative questions after the representative is done speaking. You may question each of the agency’s witnesses. You may look at all of the papers the agency shows the HSJ and ask questions about them. The HSJ may also ask questions.

    What do I do when it’s my turn?

    Give the HSJ all your evidence. Tell the HSJ why you disagree with the agency. Explain to the HSJ what you think should happen in your case. The HSJ will ask your witnesses to give information. The agency representative may see all your papers and may ask you and your witnesses questions.

    What if I can’t come to the hearing?

    If you cannot come to the hearing, you must call the HSJ right away to reschedule. The HSJ’s telephone number is on the hearing notice. You must have a good reason for not coming. If you do not have a good reason and do not call the HSJ, your case will be dismissed and you will lose your chance to appeal. If you cannot call the HSJ, you must put your reasons in writing and mail them to the HSJ as soon as possible before your hearing date.

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    What if I miss the hearing?

    If you miss a hearing, you normally lose your appeal. If you know that you are not going to be able to go to the hearing, you should call the HSJ before the hearing and ask to have the hearing rescheduled. If you miss a hearing without rescheduling it, you must write the HSJ if you want the hearing reopened. The HSJ will reopen a hearing only if you have a good reason for missing a scheduled hearing.

    Will the agency pay for the costs I have because of my appeal?

    Yes, in some cases. You may ask the agency to pay for reasonable costs you have because of your appeal. For most appeals the agency will pay for your gas to get you and your witnesses to the hearing, child care, photocopies, a medical assessment or other reasonable costs.

    Is the hearing public?

    No. The hearing is private. Only the people from the agency and state may come to the hearing or listen to the recording without your permission.

    May I talk to the HSJ privately without the agency being there?

    You may talk to the HSJ about the procedures, such as asking the HSJ to reschedule the hearing or asking questions about the notice. You may also talk to the HSJ if you have trouble getting a copy of the papers related to your hearing, getting access to your case file, or getting subpoenas if you have not been able to get these things from the agency. But you may not talk or write to the HSJ privately about the facts of your case. Neither side can. The HSJ must hear both sides of the case to decide fairly.

    May I file a new application while my appeal is going?

    Yes, you may file an application at any time. If your situation changes during the appeal, tell the agency and ask to reapply right away.

    Sometimes this can make an overpayment smaller or help you get more benefits. You might be eligible now, even if the HSJ decides that the agency was right in the decision being appealed.

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    Will the HSJ make a decision at the hearing?

    No. The HSJ will write a recommendation to the chief HSJ. The state's chief HSJ will make the final decision. It takes time, up to 60 days from the date you appeal a SNAP decision or 90 days for all other appeals.

    What if I disagree with the state’s decision about my appeal?

    If you disagree with the state’s chief HSJ's decision, you may appeal to the state district court in your county. So may the agency. Any appeal must be filed within 30 days of the date of the state decision. The state law that describes your right to appeal to district court is Minnesota Statutes, Section 256.045, subdivision 7. You should ask Legal Aid or another attorney about what court procedures to use. Before appealing to district court, you may ask the state to reconsider its decision. This request should be in writing and sent to DHS’ Appeals Office. You have 30 days to ask for reconsideration. If your timely request for reconsideration is denied, you then have 30 days to appeal to district court.

    What if I have questions about my appeal rights?

    Talk with your worker. Your worker will be able to answer most of your questions but cannot give you legal help. For legal help, you can call an attorney or Legal Aid. See the list of legal aid offices with their telephone numbers.

    You also may call or write the Appeals Office.

    The address and telephone number of the state Appeals Office is:

    Appeals Office
    Minnesota Department of Human Services
    PO Box 64941
    St. Paul, MN 55164-0941
    651-431-3600 (voice)
    TTY/TDD: 800-627-3529
    Toll-free line: 800-657-3510
    Fax: 651-431-7523

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    What about MNsure appeals?

    The DHS Appeals Office does conduct hearing on behalf of the MNsure Board. However, the rules and procedures for those hearings may be different than for the hearings described here. For more information regarding an appeal of a decision by the MNsure Board, go to www.mnsure.org.

    List of Legal Services offices

    Statewide hotline

    888-354-5522

    Albert Lea

    507-377-2831, 800-223-0280

    Alexandria

    320-762-0663, 800-450-2552

    Anoka County Judicare

    763-783-4970

    Bemidji

    218-751-9201, 800-450-9201

    Brainerd

    218-829-1701, 800-933-1112

    Cambridge

    763-689-2849, 800-622-7772

    Cass Lake

    218-335-2223, 800-422-1335

    Duluth

    218-623-8100, 855-204-1697

    Grand Rapids

    800-708-6695

    TTY/TDD: 218-322-6020

    Fargo Migrant Legal Services

    701-232-8872, 800-832-5575

    Mankato

    507-387-5588, 800-247-2299

    Minneapolis

    612-332-1441, 800-292-4150

    TTY/TDD: 612-332-4668

    Moorhead

    218-233-8585, 800-450-8585

    Pine City

    800-382-7166

    Voice/TTY/TDD: 320-629-7166

    Prior Lake

    952-440-1040

    St. Cloud

    320-253-0138, 800-622-7773

    Voice/TTY/TDD: 888-360-2889

    St. Paul

    651-222-5863

    TTY/TDD: 651-222-5863

    St. Paul Migrant Legal Services

    651-291-2837, 800-255-0797

    Virginia

    800-886-3270

    TTY/TDD: 218-749-3270

    Willmar

    320-235-7662, 800-622-4011

    Winona

    Voice/TTY/TDD: 507-454-6660, 800-372-8168

    Worthington

    507-372-7368, 800-233-0023

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