If the household disagrees with any action taken by the CalFresh office regarding the household’s benefits, it should ask for a “fair hearing.” (See the other sections of this Guide for details about how the fair hearing process works.) If the CalFresh office is cutting off or reducing someone’s benefits, the recipient should ask for a hearing right away. In most other cases, it is a good idea to talk with the case worker first to see if the problem can be worked out. The CalFresh office should not break agreements it makes with the recipient.
A household has the right to a fair hearing on anything the CalFresh office does that has a significant effect on its application for or receipt of benefits or other services the office provides. See Madrid v. McMahon, 183 Cal.App.3d 151 (1986); 7 C.F.R. § 273.15; Welf. & Inst. Code § 10950; MPP §§ 22-001 et seq., 63-804, 63-108.9.] At the hearing, the recipient will have a chance to tell his or her side of the story. [7 C.F.R. § 273.15(p); MPP §§ 22-051, 22-052, 22-053.] The recipient can explain why the CalFresh office was wrong and how many CalFresh benefits it thinks it should get.
A fair hearing is a meeting with people from the CalFresh office and is run by a person called the hearing official or Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). [7 C.F.R. § 273.15(m)-(p); MPP §§ 22-049.2, 22-049.7, 22-051, 22-052, 22-053.] This person must be fair and impartial. [7 C.F.R. § 273.15; MPP §§ 22-055.] The ALJ cannot be anyone who helped or was involved in taking the action that the recipient household is appealing. [7 C.F.R. § 273.15(m).] For example, if the recipient asked for a fair hearing because the case worker sent the household a notice to reduce its CalFresh benefits, the case worker and his supervisor cannot be the hearing official at the hearing.