Department of Human Services

Food Stamp Online  Policy Manual

Complaints, Appeals and Fair Hearings - Procedures




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(1)   Administrative Law Judge         


Administrative Law Judges are a part of the Office of the Secretary of State in Tennessee and hear appeals and make decisions on Family Assistance Program issues at various locations within the state, including Johnson City, Knoxville, Chattanooga, Cookeville, Nashville, Jackson and Memphis. [Note:  See also, definition of Hearing Officer, below.]


(2)   Appeal


An appeal is a procedure for bringing grievances, which cannot be resolved in the local office to the State Office for a hearing.


(3)   Appellant


An appellant is an individual who is dissatisfied with an action of the Department in regard to the furnishing or denial of assistance and who, as a result, is requesting a fair hearing before the State Office.


(4)   Complaint


A complaint is an expression of dissatisfaction by an applicant or recipient with action taken, or    the failure to take action, by the local office or a Service Center of the Department of Human Services.  A complaint as an expression of dissatisfaction is one that is not yet lodged in a request for a fair hearing and that retains the possibility that it can be resolved in a conference.


(5)   Complainant


A complainant is an applicant or recipient, or individual acting in behalf of the applicant or recipient, who initiates expressed dissatisfaction with action taken by DHS staff in relation to assistance for which the client has applied or which he is receiving.


(6)   Conciliation


Conciliation is a review of the issue under appeal between the appellant and the Conciliation Unit in the Division of Appeals and Hearings in the State Office.  Conciliation Unit staff will make the initial determination as to whether the appeal was filed timely and whether the issue is subject to appeal.  They will acknowledge the appeal that has been filed and will determine if the case action at issue was appropriate.  If the case requires correction, Conciliation staff will make the correction, whenever possible.  Otherwise, they will notify the appropriate county staff and specify the correction(s) needed.  If Conciliation Unit staff is successful in resolving the issue with the appellant, they will mail the appellant a Resolution Letter, along with a copy of a Withdrawal form.  If Conciliation Unit staff is unable to resolve the issue with the client, the appeal must be forwarded to the Case Preparation Unit to prepare for a hearing.  Staff will authorize continuation/reinstatement of benefits if appropriate, pending an appeal.


(7)   Conference


A conference is a discussion of the grievance between the complainant and county office staff in an effort to resolve the complaint.


It is mandatory that a conference be offered to a Food Stamp household, which wishes to contest a denial of expedited service.


(8)   Fair Hearing


A fair hearing is a proceeding before an impartial official designated by the Commissioner of the Department of Human Services in which an appellant or his representative may present his case.  The case may be presented with or without witnesses, to show why action or inaction by the county, area, or district office should be corrected.


(9)   Hearing Officer


A Hearing Officer is an impartial official of the Department of Human Services designated by the Commissioner to conduct a fair hearing.  The staff member so designated shall have had no personal stake or involvement in the case.  A Hearing Officer must not have been directly involved in the initial determination of the action that is being contested, and was not have been the immediate supervisor of the caseworker who took the action.  [Note:  See definition of Administrative Law Judge in the section, above.]


(10)    Local Office


The Departmental office having jurisdiction over the case, primarily the county office.


Glossary of Terms


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