How do I prepare for my appeal hearing? 

Before the appeal hearing starts, think about the issue of the appeal and the arguments that you want to make. Also, make a note of any questions that you want to ask the Department when it is your turn. 

You may want to use this opportunity to review your case file. Contact your DHS worker to set up a time to do so. 

The Department will send you a copy of their appeal summary and any other documentation that they anticipate using during the appeal hearing.  The Administrative Law Judge will have the same information to look at during the hearing. 

Be sure to have the Department's exhibits with you when you are participating in the hearing so you can look at them. 

If you have any supporting documentation that you want to include in the hearing, be sure to mail or fax that information to the Administrative Law Judge. The judge's address and fax number will be on your Notice of Hearing. The material must be sent in at least five working days before the hearing. 

This information may be submitted as evidence, which may be used by the Administrative Law Judge when making a decision about your appeal. 

Your appeal hearing will be held by phone or in person. The department's representative and anyone else who is required to be involved will also be a part of your appeal hearing.  

We use a telephone conference calling system for hearings. You can participate in the hearing from any location. Please see the instructions on the notice of telephone hearing to see how to use the conference system. 

It is your responsibility to call in for the hearing. The judge will not call you. If you do not call using the instructions on the notice of telephone hearing you will not be able to participate in the hearing. If you have an attorney or someone else helping you with your appeal, that person will also need to call into the number listed on the notice of hearing to join the appeal hearing. 

You may call in as early as five minutes before your hearing is scheduled to begin. The judge will wait five minutes after the time the hearing is scheduled to start to allow all parties to call in. If you have not called in by five minutes after the hearing is scheduled to start, the judge may dismiss your appeal and you may lose your right to participate.  

If you do not have a phone or you want your hearing to be held at the DHS local office or at a child support office, please contact your worker and the judge at least five working days before your hearing. This will give your worker time to find a room for the hearing. 

Can I look at my case file before my hearing? 

You have the right to look at your case file and any other papers the agency will be using during the appeal hearing. You will need to contact your DHS worker to set up a time to look at your case file. 

What do I do if I need an interpreter or similar help during the hearing? 

If you need an interpreter at the hearing, you can indicate this on the Appeal and Request for Hearing form when you file an appeal.  You may also call your DHS worker and request an interpreter. You will not be able to use a child as your interpreter. 

What is an informal conference? 

An informal conference is a type of meeting between your worker, your worker's supervisor, any other representatives of the Department, your attorney or representative unless prohibited by law, and you. This should be held shortly after the appeal is filed. 

The purpose of the informal conference is to give you a chance to ask questions, explain the reason you filed an appeal, and give you a chance to review your case file. 

You do not need to request an informal conference to review your file. You will need to contact your worker to set up a time to do so. 

If the issue is resolved during the informal conference, you can request to withdraw your appeal. If you do withdraw your appeal, an appeal hearing will not be scheduled for you. No one can force you to withdraw your appeal. You have the right to a fair hearing. 

What do I do if I am scheduled for a telephone hearing, but I want an in-person hearing? 

You have the right to a face-to-face hearing, if you ask for one. You can indicate this on the Appeal and Request for Hearing form when you file an appeal.  

Due to budget constraints, the number of face-to-face hearings is limited.  The issue of your appeal will be used to determine if a face-to-face hearing will be granted. 

If your appeal has already been scheduled as a telephone hearing, you will need to write to the Administrative Law Judge and tell the judge that you would prefer to have an in person hearing, rather than a telephone hearing. The judge's name and address is on the Notice of Hearing. 

Your written request must be made at least five working days before the hearing. If you get an in-person hearing, you will get a new Notice of Hearing. 

Can I bring a lawyer to my hearing? 

Your lawyer may participate in the hearing with you, but you are not required to have an attorney. You are allowed to attend your appeal hearing without legal representation. 

If you do have an attorney, write your lawyer's name on the Appeal and Request for Hearing form or call the Appeals Section at (515) 281-3094. 

You will need to tell the Appeals Section the name and address of your lawyer.  Your attorney will receive a copy of everything that you get, including the Notice of Hearing, the Proposed Decision and the Final Decision. 

Can I bring my children to the hearing? 

If your hearing will be either at the local DHS office, a Child Support Recovery Office, or an in-person hearing, it is suggested that you do not bring your children to the hearing. Even though the appeal hearing is informal, the children may cause a disruption as it is hard to determine how long an appeal hearing will take. It would be best to try to find child care for your children during the appeal hearing. 

Even if you are participating from your own home, it may be difficult to concentrate on the appeal hearing if there are distractions in the background. 

What do I do if I can't come to my hearing? 

If you can't make it to your appeal hearing, you will need to contact the Administrative Law Judge.  You must call the judge before the date and time of your appeal hearing.  The judge's name and phone number is on the Notice of Hearing. You will need to explain why you will be unable to make it to the hearing and request that the hearing be rescheduled. You must have a good reason for not attending. 

If you do not call the Administrative Law Judge and have good cause, your appeal will be considered abandoned. A Proposed Decision will be sent out indicating that you have abandoned your appeal hearing. 

What is the procedure during an appeal hearing? 

An appeal hearing is informal and will be tape-recorded. You will be able to participate in the hearing from any location. 

The Administrative Law Judge starts the hearing by entering into the conference call and determining who is on the line. The judge will write down the names of people who are attending the hearing. 

The judge will explain the procedure during the appeal hearing, then swear in individuals who will be participating in the hearing. The Department will give their testimony first and submit exhibits into evidence. Once the Department is finished, you will have a chance to ask the Department questions about their testimony. 

Now, it is your turn to testify. If you submitted any supporting documentation, the Administrative Law Judge will assign each piece an exhibit number. Arrangements may be made during the hearing to determine how you will submit copies of the exhibits to the judge, if additional information is needed based on the testimony. It will be up to the judge whether or not to accept exhibits into the record. After you have completed your testimony, the Department will have a chance to ask you questions. 

Once questions are over, the judge asks if there were any other comments that either you or the Department would like to make. If not, the hearing is ended. 

The Administrative Law Judge will make a decision about your appeal and issue a proposed decision. A decision will not be given during the hearing. 

What if I missed my appeal hearing? 

If you missed your appeal hearing and didn't call into the telephone conferencing system on the date and time of your hearing, your appeal is considered abandoned. The administrative law judge will issue a proposed decision dismissing your appeal because you did not attend. 

If you believe you had good cause for missing your appeal hearing, you may ask to have your hearing reopened. “Good cause” is defined as an emergency circumstance that is beyond your control and that prevented you from the being able to participate in the appeal hearing. 

Your request to reopen must be in writing. Fax, email or mail your written request to the following address explaining why you were unable to attend the hearing and did not contact the judge. 

Department of Human Services
Appeals Section
1305 E. Walnut St, 5th Floor
Des Moines, IA 50319
Phone: 515-281-3094
FAX: 515-564-4044
Email: appeals@dhs.state.ia.us


Your request to reopen your hearing must include information that establishes good cause and must include at least one sworn affidavit of a person having knowledge of each stated fact. In place of an affidavit, you may submit business records or acceptable documentation from a disinterested third party that substantiates the claim of good cause. 

You must submit your request within 10 days from the date the judge issues a decision saying you abandoned your hearing. 

Your appeal file will be sent back to an Administrative Law Judge to determine if you had good cause. If you did, a new appeal hearing will be scheduled for you. If you did not, another proposed decision will be issued indicating that you did not have good cause.