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Legal Rights of Benefits Applicants and Recipients

Thu, 01/10/2013 - 09:14 -- crobinson
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What rights do I have?

People who apply for or receive government benefits for low-income households often are not aware that they have legal rights. Anyone who applies for any benefit program has the following rights. You may have additional rights as well. If you think you have not been treated fairly, or have questions about your legal rights under these programs, click here to apply to LARC online, or call 1-800-639-5290.

You have the right to file an application.

Anyone can make a formal request that an agency determine whether or not they are eligible for a benefit program it administers. Each agency has its own application process.

You have the right to a timely decision.

The deadline for making the decision can vary, depending on the program for which you are applying.

You have the right to a written notice which tells you what the decision is, and which explains the reason for any adverse (unfavorable) action.

If you are denied, or if your benefits are stopped or reduced, the agency should tell you why, in writing.

You have the right to appeal adverse actions.

If you disagree with the decision, you can ask that it be reviewed by someone other than the person who made the decision. You can go to a hearing where you can present evidence about why you think a different decision should have been made. You can bring witnesses, and have someone else there, like a friend or a lawyer, to help you present your case. If you are dissatisfied with the new decision, you can consider going to court.

Each agency has its own appeal process. You should be notified about how to appeal, and what the deadline is, at the time you receive your notice of decision. In some cases, you might be able to continue receiving your benefits while the decision is being reviewed. If you do, and you lose the appeal, you might have to pay back some or all of the benefits you received during that time. You should be told how to request that your benefits continue, and what the risks are, when you receive your notice of decision.

You have the right to see your file and make copies.

You have the right to see the rules the agency uses to make its decisions, including the rules about the agency’s grievance process. You have the right to confidentiality.

Agencies can ask you to sign a release, allowing them to contact people who can verify your circumstances so they can determine your eligibility. Such contacts should be limited to obtaining and verifying information the agency needs to have. Information about you or your file should not be disclosed to anyone without your permission.

Anyone who applies for or receives public benefits should be treated fairly and with dignity.

July, 2015
Legal Advice & Referral Center

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