Frequently asked questions about state appeal hearings

  • How to appeal
  • Is there a time limit on when I can appeal?
  • Can I look at my case file before the hearing?
  • What if I need an interpreter or similar help at the hearing?
  • How does the hearing start?
  • What if I am scheduled for a telephone hearing and I want the hearing to be in person?
  • May I bring a lawyer to the hearing?
  • May I bring someone to the hearing with me?
  • What is a hearing like?
  • 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?
  • Will the agency pay for the costs I have because of my appeal?
  • Can I bring my children to the hearing?
  • Is the hearing public?
  • Can I talk to the human services judge privately without the agency being there?
  • Can I file a new application while my appeal is going?
  • Will the human services judge make a decision at the hearing?
  • What if I miss the hearing?
  • What if I disagree with the state's decision?
  • Any other questions about your appeal rights?
  • 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). With Food Stamps, you may make a verbal request for a hearing. Send or make the request to the county agency 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 county's or state's decision. If you show good cause for not appealing within this time limit, you may appeal up to 90 days. With Food Stamps, you may appeal up to 90 days after getting notice of the county'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.

    Can 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 assigned to your case and ask for an order enforcing your rights. The agency cannot use information at the hearing if they 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, you should call or write the human services judge as soon as possible. Tell the human services judge what help you need. The human services judge will make sure that an interpreter is at the hearing. These services are available to you at no charge.

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    How does the hearing start?

    The human services judge will write down the names of the people at the hearing. Then, the human services judge will turn on the tape recorder and explain how the hearing will be run. The human services judge also will ask that all people 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?

    You have the right to a face-to-face hearing, if you ask for one. If you want a face-to face hearing, you should call the human services judge and tell him/her that is what you want. On the other hand, you can also tell the human services judge that you prefer a telephone hearing rather than a face-to-face hearing. The human services judge may have to schedule the hearing for a different day and time.

    May I bring a lawyer to the hearing?

    Yes. You may have a lawyer come with you to the hearing if you choose. The state or county 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 human services judge.

    What is the hearing like?

    The hearing is informal, but you must come prepared. The human services judge 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 human services judge.

    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 human services judge to see. You should tell the human services judge 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, you should 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 human services judge 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 in his/her possession. It is your responsibility to serve the witness according to the legal rules. The human services judge will explain how to serve a subpoena if you ask.

    Who goes first?

    The human services judge will ask the agency to start first. The agency will tell the human services judge its view of the facts. The agency also will explain its reasons for handling your case the way it did. The agency will explain the laws and policies it used in your case.

    May I ask the agency questions at the hearing?

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

    What do I do when it’s my turn?

    Give the human services judge all your evidence. Tell the human services judge why you disagree with the agency. Explain to the human services judge what you think should happen in your case. The human services judge will ask your witnesses to give information. The agency 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 human services judge right away to reschedule. The human services judge’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 human services judge, your case will be dismissed and you will lose your chance to appeal. If you cannot call the human services judge you must put your reasons in writing and mail them to the human services judge as soon as possible.

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

    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 to the hearing, gas for your witnesses, child care, copying, a medical assessment or other reasonable costs.

    Can 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.

    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 tape recording without your permission.

    Can I talk to the human services judge privately without the agency being there?

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

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

    Yes, 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 get you more benefits. You might be eligible now, even if the human services judge decides that the agency was right before.

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    Will the human services judge make a decision at the hearing?

    No. The human services judge will write a recommended order. The final decision will be made by the state director of appeals. You will get a copy of the state’s decision. It takes time, up to 90 days from the date you appealed (or with Food Stamps up to 60 days).

    What if I miss the hearing?

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

    What if I disagree with the state’s decision?

    If you disagree with the state’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 and Regulations Division. 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.

    Any other questions about your appeal rights?

    You can 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 human services judge assigned to your case. The human services judge’s name, address and telephone number is on the hearing notice.

    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
    TTY/TDD: (651) 296-7385
    Toll-free line: (800) 657-3510
    Fax: (651) 431-7523

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    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

    (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) 726-4800, (800) 622-7266

    Grand Rapids

    (800) 708-6695

    TTY/TDD: (218) 326-6695

    Fargo Migrant Legal Services

    (701) 232-8872, (800) 832-5575

    Mankato

    (507) 387-5588, (800) 247-2299

    Minneapolis, downtown

    (612) 332-1441

    TTY/TDD: (612) 332-4668

    Minneapolis, northside

    (612) 588-2099

    Minneapolis, southside

    (612) 827-3774

    TTY/TDD: (612) 827-1491

    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) 253-0121

    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) 652-9733

    Virginia

    (800) 886-3270

    TTY/TDD: (218) 749-3270

    Willmar

    (320) 235-9600, (888) 360-3666

    Winona

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

    Worthington

    (507) 372-7368, (800) 233-0023

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