Filing an Appeal

An appeal is your legal means of challenging a decision made by your County Assistance Office that you think is unfair or incorrect. Your right to appeal is perhaps your most important right as a Welfare consumer!

  • Every client has the right to appeal any Departmental action or failure to act and to have a fair hearing if they are dissatisfied with any decision to refuse, discontinue, change, suspend, or reduce assistance or food stamps.
  • Each client has the right to represent him or herself at the hearing or to bring someone else such as a lawyer, friend, or relative to represent him or her.

How do I file an appeal?

Every form from Welfare has an appeal section on it. You need to do five things:

  1.  Where it says, “I want to appeal,” write,“I don’t agree with this decision.”
  2. Check the box for a “face-to-face” hearing or phone hearing. Also check the box for an interpreter, if one is needed.
  3. Sign and date it, write your address and phone number.
  4. Get a copy made so that you have one for your files.
  5. Get it to the welfare office and get a receipt! If you drop it off, have them write you a receipt. If you mail it, mail it certified mail and keep the receipt.

You can also call your caseworker on the phone and let him/her know that you are appealing a decision and send them a written statement within three days of notifying them verbally.

  • You do not need to use their form, you can hand-write or type your own appeal letter.
  • Remember to keep a copy of your statement for your records.

The Pre-Appeal Conference

Your caseworker or their supervisor can schedule a pre-appeal meeting or agency conference to try to resolve your problem before it gets to the hearing level. We recommend that you request this meeting and take an advocate or someone else you trust to this meeting!

You should not waive your right to a hearing if your problem is not fully resolved at this meeting. Expect the caseworker to tell you that you can’t win, or to otherwise discourage you. If they promise to do something, get it in writing.

An appeal hearing is your right! Your benefits may not be changed until the appeals process is over. However, if they decide against you, you may be liable for an over-payment in benefits.

There are important deadlines in filing an appeal so file your appeal immediately!

13 day – If you appeal within 10 days of the date on the notice, your benefits will not be cut and welfare won’t take any money back unless you lose at the hearing.

30 days – You have 30 days to appeal any decision about your cash or Medical Assistance (MA). Welfare can reduce your money if you miss the 13-day deadline, but they will give it back if you win your appeal.

90 days – You have 90 days to appeal any decision about your food stamps. Welfare will start taking your food stamps if you miss the 13-day deadline, but they will give it back if you win your appeal.

What happens after I file the appeal?

You will have an opportunity to meet with the caseworker and his or her supervisor (Agency Conference) to attempt to settle the matter. If unsuccessful, you can proceed to a hearing in front of a hearing officer. At the hearing, you can present your evidence.

Make sure to take an advocate or someone you trust and be sure they write down, important things that are said.

  • An advocate can be a friend, a social worker or counselor, or a family member.
  • You can also call Neighborhood Legal Services at 412-255-6700 or Just Harvest at 412-431-8960.