On March 1, 2016, as a follow-up to General Information System (GIS) Message 16 TA/DC001, Administrative Law Judges (ALJs) were given explicit instructions in OAH Procedures Transmittal 16-01 on how to handle Fair Hearings at which appellants requested but did not receive specific policy materials needed to prepare for their Fair Hearing:
"When this issue is raised at the hearing, the Hearing Officer has a responsibility to assess whether the social services district has complied with 18 NYCRR 300.5(b) and that requested specific policy documents have been made available to the Appellant or their representative and take appropriate action if this has not occurred. There are no special requirements an Appellant, or representative, has to follow to make a request. A statement by the Appellant, or their representative, which is as specific as possible, requesting access to policy documents to prepare for a fair hearing is sufficient. If the district does not comply with the request, or the request is made at the time of the hearing, the Hearing Officer may do several things. The Hearing Officer may grant an adjournment so that the district may provide the Appellant, or their representative, with access to specific policy documents as outlined in GIS 16 TA/DC001. The Hearing Officer could also allow a brief recess for the Appellant to review the specific policy documents. When requests for specific policy documents are made by an Appellant’s representative, the Hearing Officer should enquire whether the representative has available Internet access and, if so, advise the representative that all OTDA policy documents are available on the OTDA website. A brief adjournment may be granted to allow the representative an opportunity to review policy documents. As the circumstances of each case can vary, the Hearing Officer is to review this issue on a case-by-case basis" (emphasis supplied).
Id. at pp. 1-2.
In describing the scope of available policy materials, this OAH transmittal explained that
"Examples of policy materials include: Administrative Directives (ADM’s), Informational Letters (INF’s), Local Commissioners Memoranda (LCM’s), General Information System Messages (GIS) and various source books and provider manuals. 18 NYCRR 300.5(b) is applicable to policy materials issued by the New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA), the New York State Department of Health, and the New York State Office of Children and Family Services. All OTDA policy documents and manuals are available on the OTDA website. It should also be noted that social services districts sometimes issue their own documents to implement State policy. Such policy materials must be made available, upon specific request, by the social service district to an applicant, recipient or their representative to determine whether a fair hearing should be requested or to prepare for a fair hearing" (emphasis supplied).
Id. at p. 1.
For more information on the right to obtain free copies of specific policy materials needed to prepare for a Fair Hearing or to determine whether to request a Fair Hearing, see the article on Pre-Hearing Disclosure of Requested Policy Materials.
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Author: Gene Doyle, LMSW.