Administrative Disqualification Hearings – Food Stamp Benefits
This article will discuss the ins and outs of Administrative Disqualification Hearings for Food Stamp Benefits (SNAP Benefits).
If you are getting SNAP benefits (Food Stamps) and are being investigated for fraud, your case will be sent to the Bureau of Fraud Investigation.You may get a notice advising you that you are scheduled for an Administrative Disqualification Hearing. The letter will come from Albany, from the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, a department within New York State.
The Administrative Disqualification Hearing is a type of “Fair Hearing” and your hearing will be assigned a Fair Hearing # which must be referenced in all correspondence regarding your case. The Administrative Disqualification Hearing is initiated by the agency and is used when the agency suspects that you have committed Intentional Program Violation (IPV).
Administrative Disqualification Hearings for recipients in NYC are held in downtown Brooklyn at a state office building. The address is:
NYS OTDA-Fair Hearings
14 Boerum Place, 1st Floor
Brooklyn, NY 11201
The New York State Office which handles these hearings is located in Albany. The address is:
NYS Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance
Office of Administrative Hearings
PO Box 1930
Albany, NY 12201
Adjourning Fair Hearings or Administrative Disqualification Hearings
If you get a notice of a fair hearing or administrative disqualification hearing, and cannot make the date for whatever reason, it may be possible to adjourn the date and have the hearing another time. In order to adjourn the hearing to reschedule you must call the Office in Albany which handles fair hearings. There may be several reasons to adjourn a hearing date. For example, you may have a conflict on that day. You may need to arrange for the day off or for child care. Others may simply require more time to prepare for the hearing and may need time to gather and obtain their documents and records in order to present them at the hearing. You may want to hire an attorney to represent you at this hearing, and an attorney will need time to meet with you and to prepare the case. When you adjourn a hearing, you have little control over what the alternative date is, and its typically up to the agency to decide. The risk you run when adjourning the date is that you cannot make the alternate date either.
How to Prepare for an Administrative Disqualification Hearing
Prior to the hearing, you should request the original evidentiary packet for your SNAP case. You can contact the HRA Bureau of Fraud Investigation. The address:
Bureau of Fraud Investigation
250 Church Street – 4th Floor
New York, NY 10013
(212) 274-6058 or
The evidentiary package will include your original applications and copies of all the documents that you originally submitting to the agency to support your application.
REVIEWING THE EVIDENCE PACKAGE IS CRITICAL AND SHOULD BE DONE THOROUGHLY.
Waiving the Administrative Disqualification Hearing
Each SNAP benefits recipient is entitled to an administrative disqualification hearing. In order to invoke this right all a recipient has to do is request a fair hearing. You can also waive your right to a hearing. In some instances it makes sense to waive your right to a hearing. For example, if you only have documents or evidence that is to your disadvantage then it may be a good idea to waive your hearing. If you waive your disqualification hearing then you will automatically be disqualified from the benefit program. If the administrator determines that there has been an overpayment of public assistance then you will be responsible for paying it back if you waive your right to a hearing. In summary, regardless of whether you admit the facts that led you to an administrative disqualification, you will have to repay for overissuance of benefits.
You have the right to stay silent regarding the charges that lead to the administrative disqualification hearing. It may be in your best interest to remain silent so that you do not provide the agency with evidence which hurts your case. Anything you say during the hearing can be used against you in other agency matters, other assistance cases and in court. The agency will draw an inference if you stay silent regarding the allegations or charges.
How do I Waive my Administrative Disqualification Hearing
If you decide to waive your right to an administrative disqualification hearing, then you will need to sign a waiver form. The waiver form must be signed and dated and returned to the New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance. Their address is:
New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance
Administrative Disqualification Hearing Unit
P.O. Box 1930
Albany, NY 12201
If you send in the form in advance of your hearing, you do not need to attend the hearing. It is always a good idea to keep a copy of the waiver form for your records so make sure you make a copy of the original before you send it to Albany.
If you do not send in the waiver form in advance of the hearing, you can still waive the hearing on the date it is scheduled in person. To do so, you must appear at 14 Boerum Place at the time designated. When you arrive, you have to tell the receptionist behind the window that you have a hearing scheduled and you want to waive it. They will direct you to the correct floor that you have to go to. When you get to the hearing location you will speak to someone and you will have to tell them that you want to waive the hearing. They will present you with the waiver form there and you will have a chance to sign it. MAKE SURE THAT YOU ASK FOR A COPY OF THE FORM BEFORE YOU LEAVE so that you can keep it for your records.
Understanding the Waiver of the Administrative Disqualification Hearing
The Waiver form will have instructions for filling it out but it can still be confusing to fill out. The instructions state that the accused can sign the form and by doing so, they are waiving their right to an administrative disqualification hearing. For Snap cases, where the recipient is accused of IPV (intentional program violation), and the accused is NOT the head of the household, the head of the household must also sign the waiver. There may be reasons that the head of the household will refuse to sign the waiver, and you may consult an attorney to weigh all of your options if this is the case for you.
If you need assistance filling the form out you can call the phone number on the form: (518) 473-8920.
The waiver has four main sections which are important:
- when you sign the waiver you state that you have examined the evidence that the agency presented showing why you were suspected of committing an intentional program violation.
- you have the option to admit the facts presented.
- you have the option to NOT admit the facts presented.
- the penalty imposed (suspension from the program and repayment, if any).
If you have not reviewed the evidence package it may be a good idea to wait to sign the waiver until you have had a chance to see the evidence that the agency has against you.
What is the Penalty if I am found guilty at an ADMINISTRATIVE DISQUALIFICATION HEARING?
If you are found guilty of committing an intentional program violation (IPV) the punishment is that you will not be allowed to participate in the SNAP program for one year (if this is your first offense). The agency will determine the amount owed, the reason for the claim, and you will be asked to make a repayment to the agency. Other household members will be held responsible for the overpayment as well. If you receive other benefits they may be affected by your ineligibility for SNAP benefits.
What is the difference between being found guilty at the hearing and signing the waiver?
The effect is the same. If you sign the waiver it will carry the same weight as being found guilty at the administrative disqualification hearing.