Administrative Appeals

The Administrative Appeals Unit (AAU) is independent of DHHS Program Offices and Divisions, with a mission to conduct impartial hearings and render decisions in accordance with the requirements of NH Statutes and Administrative Rules.

While administrative hearings are formal legal proceedings, they are conducted in an informal manner, allowing those who challenge a DHHS decision to tell their stories to an impartial hearing officer. These hearing officers review documentary evidence, hear testimony under oath from individuals, and issue written final DHHS legal decisions that may confirm or reverse the original determinations made by DHHS program offices.

Any individual or organization dissatisfied with any matter within the jurisdiction of DHHS may request an administrative appeal hearing.

Examples of decisions that may be appealed include:

  • DHHS Actions to deny, terminate or decrease individual benefits (e.g. Medicaid, SNAP, home and community based care, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, Old Age Assistance, child care assistance);
  • Denials and revocations of licenses and certifications;
  • Imposition of administrative fines;
  • Allegations of client rights violations for mentally ill or developmentally disabled individuals;
  • Revocation of conditional discharges from New Hampshire Hospital (NHH);
  • Transfers of NHH patients to the Secure Psychiatric Unit; and
  • Findings that place individuals on the DHHS central registry of child abuse and neglect.

How to Start an Appeal

Generally, an appeal request must be in writing. You can use the Appeal Request form or just write a letter to the Department. Your request can be submitted in a few different ways:

  • Dropped off or mailed to your local District Office;
  • Mailed to the Administrative Appeals Unit; or
  • Emailed to the Administrative Appeals Unit at dhhs.aau@dhhs.nh.gov.

If you cannot complete the form or write a letter, you may start an appeal by telling a representative of DHHS that you want to file an appeal.

Be aware that there are time limits for filing an appeal. Generally, you must file an appeal within 30 days from the date on the Notice of Decision (90 days for SNAP). Carefully read your Notice of Decision for specific information to be sure of how long you have to file your appeal.

Under certain circumstances, if you appeal an action within 15 days of the date on the Notice of Decision, you may be able to continue to receive benefits at the same level until a decision on your appeal is issued. If the appeal decision upholds the Department’s action, the continued benefits will have to be repaid.

Get Help Preparing

You do not need an attorney, but you may want to have one to protect your interests. You do not have the right to appointed counsel for a hearing, and must pay for your own attorney. If you want an attorney and cannot afford one, the organizations on the Legal Resources page may be able to assist you, or provide a referral.

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FAQs

How do I start an appeal?

Generally, an appeal request must be in writing. You can use the Appeal Request form or just write a letter to the Department. Your request can be submitted in a few different ways:

  • Dropped off or mailed to your local District Office;
  • Mailed to the Administrative Appeals Unit; or
  • Emailed to the Administrative Appeals Unit at dhhs.aau@dhhs.nh.gov.

How long do I have to appeal a decision?

Generally, you must file an appeal within 30 days from the date on the Notice of Decision (90 days for Food Stamps). Carefully read your Notice of Decision for specific information to be sure of how long you have to file your appeal.

Can I continue to receive my benefits while my appeal is ongoing?

Under certain circumstances, if you appeal the Notice of Decision within 15 days of the date it was issued, you can continue to receive your benefits while the appeal is ongoing. However, if the final decision of the appeal is in the Department’s favor, the benefits you received during the course of the appeal must be repaid to DHHS.

What are my rights as the party who asked for an appeal (Appellant)?

As an Appellant, you have the following rights:

  • You may represent yourself, be represented by a friend, relative, or other person, or may be represented by an attorney at your own expense;
  • You or your authorized representative may examine the case file prior to or during the hearing, including any and all documents or records to be introduced by the other party at the hearing. (NOTE: Prior arrangements must be made in order to examine the case file, and the material to be examined will not include any confidential material, or other material protected from disclosure by law.);
  • You will be given an opportunity to testify;
  • You may bring witnesses and have them testify;
  • You may introduce evidence to establish all pertinent facts and circumstances;
  • You may present any relevant arguments without undue interference;
  • You may cross-examine the other party’s witnesses; and
  • You may question or refute any testimony or evidence.

Do I need an attorney?

You do not need an attorney, however, you may want one to protect your interests and rights. The laws and rules are complicated, but do remain the same whether or not you have an attorney. Exceptions will not be made for self-represented parties.  If you want an attorney and cannot afford one, the organizations on the Legal Resources page may be able to assist you or provide a referral.

Will DHHS pay for my attorney?

No, DHHS will not pay for you to have an attorney. You do not have the right to appointed counsel in these matters, and you must cover any and all legal costs on your own.

Can I get help preparing for the hearing?

DHHS cannot assist you in preparing for the hearing. Though you do not need an attorney to make an appeal, you may want one to protect your interests. You do not have the right to appointed counsel for a hearing and must pay for your own attorney.  If you want an attorney and cannot afford one, the organizations on the Legal Resources page may be able to assist you or provide a referral.

What are the “mandatory pre-hearing disclosure requirements” mentioned in the Notice of Hearing?

The law requires certain documents to be provided to the other party AND to the Administrative Appeals Unit at least 5 days before the hearing or pre-hearing conference.

  • If you plan to call any witnesses, you must provide a list of witnesses with a brief summary of their testimony (what they will say);
  • If you have exhibits (documents such as medical records, written opinions, letters, or other evidence) that you want the Hearings Officer to consider, you must provide a list of the exhibits and provide a copy of each exhibit; and
  • Any stipulations (agreements between both parties) regarding the facts in this case.

How should my exhibits (documents) be identified?

Each exhibit must be labeled “Appellant” and numbered. For example, your first exhibit will be labeled “Appellant 1,” the second will be “Appellant 2” and so on. Likewise, the DHHS exhibits shall be labeled using “DHHS.”

Am I allowed to contact the Hearings Officer about questions or concerns that I have?

No. Any communications with the Hearings Officer that does not include all parties is prohibited by law. Do not call or send email to the Hearings Officer. An example of prohibited communication is sending a letter or exhibit to the Hearings Officer, without sending a copy to the other parties involved in your appeal. Communication between you and the Department, however, does not violate any rule and is encouraged.

What should I do if I will not be able to make it to the hearing?

As soon as you know that you cannot attend the hearing, you should call the other parties and ask if they will agree to have the hearing continued (rescheduled). Next you should write or call the Administrative Appeals Unit to ask that the hearing be continued. You must explain why the hearing needs to be continued and whether or not the other parties have agreed to reschedule the hearing. You must contact the AAU by letter or phone before the date of the hearing. Do not assume that your request for a continuance has been granted. The hearing will not be continued unless the Hearings Officer grants your request.

What happens if I do not attend a scheduled hearing?

If you do not attend the hearing and you have not been granted a continuance, your appeal will be dismissed automatically. Several people must prepare for the hearing and if a party does not attend, resources and time that could be spent on other cases are wasted. If you want to withdraw your appeal, you must notify the other parties and the Administrative Appeals Unit prior to the hearing. This notification should be in writing, but may be done by telephone if time is a factor.

What is meant by “burden of proof” at a hearing?

The burden of proof is the duty that is placed on one of the parties to initially produce evidence and testimony and to persuade the Hearings Office to find in their favor.

The general rule is that the party who initiated the appeal has the burden of proof. Each case is different, however, and you will be notified at the time of the hearing which party has the burden of proof.

What opportunity will I have to present my case at the hearing?

Once the hearing begins, the presiding officer may ask for opening statements. You are not required to make an opening statement, but if you do, it should be brief, no more than a minute or two. The opening statement is your opportunity to provide a brief overview of your position in the matter being addressed at the hearing.

Next, the parties will take turns presenting evidence and testimony. Usually, the party with the burden of proof goes first. Whether you go first or not, the basic process will be the same. When it is your turn, you may call your witnesses one at a time. The Hearings Officer will swear them in and you may ask them questions. When you are finished questioning each witnesses, the other parties will have a chance to question or cross-examine your witness. All parties will be given the same opportunity to call witnesses, make statements, and cross-examine the other party’s witnesses. The Hearings Officer may ask questions of any witness or party at any time during the hearing.

When all testimony has been given, each party may make a closing argument. A closing argument should be brief (no more than 3 to 5 minutes) and should highlight and summarize the evidence that supports your position. You are not required to give a closing argument, and there is no penalty for not giving one.

What happens if I do not have any witnesses to call during the hearing?

If you have no witnesses, you will be sworn in and may tell the Hearings Officer your side of the story. If you do this, other parties may question you when you are finished with your testimony.

Are there any additional rules to follow during the hearing?

Yes. Be courteous to all individuals, even if you disagree with them. You should not interrupt others when they are talking. The only time you are allowed to interrupt is to make an objection. The Hearings Officer may refuse to accept the evidence or testimony if it repeats something already presented or is not related to the issue.

When will a decision be made in my case?

The Hearings Officer will issue a written decision sometime after the hearing concludes and the record is closed. Generally, all decisions are written and issued in the same order in which the hearings were held. The time it takes to get a written decision is dependent on the number and complexity of cases ahead of yours, and generally ranges from about one to three months.

Can I submit additional evidence after the hearing?

In general, evidence sent to the Hearings Officer will not be considered in the decision. There are some exceptions to the general rule, and you will be told at the hearing if any exception applies. You should make every effort to submit all of your exhibits at least 5 days before the hearing.

Does the Frequently Asked Questions document provided to me with the Notice of Hearing contain all of the rules, regulations, and laws that I need to know for the hearing?

No. The purpose of the document is to present some of the frequently asked questions and the answers in general terms. The New Hampshire Code of Administrative Rules Chapter He-C 200 Rules of Practice and Procedure govern the hearings process.

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