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Library: Policy

340:2-5-73. Hearing procedures

Revised 9-15-14

(a) Hearings.  All hearings scheduled by the Appeals Unit are conducted by an administrative hearing officer (AHO), who: 

  • (1) administers oaths;

  • (2) regulates and conducts the hearing in an orderly manner;

  • (3) ensures all relevant issues are considered;

  • (4) rules on the admissibility of evidence;

  • (5) at his or her discretion, requests written comments be submitted;

  • (6) if necessary for a client's case to be adequately presented, assists a client to present his or her case; and

  • (7) takes such action as the AHO deems necessary to reach a proper disposition of the case.

(b) Hearing location.

  • (1) It is solely within the discretion of the AHO whether to hold the hearing in person or by telephone.  When in person, it is solely within the discretion of the AHO to designate the location at which the hearing is held. 

  • (2) When the hearing is held in the local office and the AHO determines the space provided for the hearing by the local office is inadequate, the local office provides other space acceptable to the AHO.

(c) Hearings are not open to the public.

  • (1) In order that the confidential nature of case material and the relationship between the client and the Oklahoma Department of Human Services (DHS) are maintained, hearings are not open to the public.

  • (2) No one other than the client, the authorized representative, and the DHS representative are permitted to attend the hearing, without permission of the AHO and the client.

(d) Failure to appear.

  • (1) When an appropriate representative from the local office fails to appear, and the local office fails to show good cause, the AHO proceeds with the hearing, taking evidence from the client, and issues a decision. 

  • (2) Client failure to appear in:

    • (A) Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) disqualification hearings a hearing must be held and a decision issued; and

    • (B) in all other cases, if a client fails to show good cause, the AHO dismisses the hearing request.

(e) Pre-hearing conference.

  • (1) A conference may be conducted by the AHO immediately prior to the formal beginning of a hearing.  The purpose of the pre-hearing conference is to reduce the actual amount of time spent in the hearing.  In the pre-hearing conference the AHO identifies all:

    • (A) witnesses;

    • (B) exhibits;

    • (C) issues to be covered in the hearing; and

    • (D) does not record the conference.

  • (2) At the AHO's discretion, a pre-hearing conference may be held before the date of the hearing.

    • (A) The AHO notifies the parties of the date and time of the conference.

    • (B) The conference is not recorded.

    • (C) Based on the statements of the parties, the AHO determines the issues to address at the hearing.

    • (D) The AHO establishes dates for submission of the following:

      • (i) the DHS proposed exhibits, witness list, and Hearing Summary;

      • (ii) appealing party's proposed exhibits, witness list, and response to DHS Hearing Summary; and

      • (ii) the DHS reply to the appealing party's response.

    • (E) The AHO schedules a hearing date.

    • (F) The AHO issues a Scheduling Order.

    • (G) All documents must be mailed or emailed to the AHO with a copy to the opposing party.  Documents must be received by the AHO and the opposing party on the date established by the AHO.

(f) Recording the hearing.

  • (1) The AHO is responsible for arranging for the hearing to be recorded.  The hearing may be recorded electronically or by a certified court reporter. 

  • (2) The AHO's recording of the hearing is the official recording.  The client or authorized representative may provide his or her own recording device for use during the hearing if such recording is not disruptive.  In no case is videotaping allowed. 

  • (3) Upon written request to the Appeals Unit, DHS provides the client or authorized representative a copy of the recording of the hearing.  A transcript of the recording is provided only when required by federal or state law.

(g) Admonitions.

  • (1) When the hearing involves assistance, as defined at Section 161(g) of Title 56 of the Oklahoma Statutes (56 O.S. § 161(g)), all persons presenting evidence are advised of the provisions of 56 O.S. § 182.

  • (2) When the hearing involves an applicant for or a recipient of the Medical Assistance Program, Children's Special Health Care Needs Services, State Supplemental Payment for the Aged, Blind, and Disabled, Child Care Subsidy, or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, all persons presenting evidence are advised by the AHO of the provisions of 56 O.S. § 185.

  • (3) When the hearing involves SNAP, all individuals appearing to give testimony are advised by the AHO of the provisions of 56 O.S. § 243.

(h) Oath for Witnesses.

  • (1) An oath is administered by the AHO to the client, witness(es), and the representative(s) of the local office.  The following form is used for the oath, "Do you solemnly swear or affirm that the evidence you give in this case will be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth?"

  • (2) In hearings in which a client is assisted by an interpreter, the AHO also administers an oath to the interpreter.  The following form is used for the oath, "Do you solemnly swear or affirm that you will truthfully translate from English into (state the other language) the questions about to be asked and from (state the other language) into English the answers about to be given in the case to the best of your ability?"

(i) Sequestration of witnesses.  The AHO may require that any witness, other than the client, authorized representative, and the local office representative, absent himself or herself from the hearing room except when the witness is testifying. 

(j) Presentation of the case.

  • (1) Presentation of the case includes:

    • (A) participation in the pre-hearing conference;

    • (B) opening statements;

    • (C) calling witnesses;

    • (D) questioning witnesses;

    • (E) offering of non-testimonial evidence; and

    • (F) closing statements. 

  • (2) Case presentation.

    • (A) Presentation of the DHS case is made by the DHS employee most familiar with the issues. • 1

    • (B) The client:

      • (i) may elect to present the case himself or herself; or

      • (ii) have an authorized representative present the case.

  • (3) The AHO directs the order of presentation of evidence. • 2

(A) The AHO may call and/or examine witnesses to develop the record and ensure all evidence favorable to an unrepresented client is presented.

(B) If during the hearing, the AHO determines a party can submit evidence after the hearing, without the necessity of reconvening the hearing, the AHO sets the time and manner in which the evidence is submitted.

  • (4) When presentation of the evidence is complete, the AHO allows closing statements, with the party bearing the burden of proof presenting last.

(k) Other AHO duties.

  • (1) When opinions of a subjective nature or expert opinions of a technical nature are relevant, the AHO elicits information that indicates the competence of the persons making these statements.  • 3

  • (2) When the AHO determines the client cannot adequately represent himself or herself, the AHO may continue the hearing and direct the local office to help the client obtain an authorized representative. 

(l) AHO closing statement.

  • (1) When the hearing is continued, the AHO explains the reason(s) for the continuance and the responsibilities to be carried out by the client and local office before the hearing is reconvened. The AHO is responsible for setting the date on which the hearing will be resumed and for notifying the client and the local office.

  • (2) When the hearing is not continued, as soon as all pertinent evidence is presented, the parties are given an opportunity to make closing statements.

  • (3) Following closing statements by the parties, the AHO makes a closing statement in which he or she explains:

    • (A) the Appeals Committee will make a decision in the case;

    • (B) the possible decisions that may be reached;

    • (C) the decision is normally made within the following time periods, plus any delay caused by the client:

      • (i) 30 days for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program;

      • (ii) 60 days for SNAP; and

      • (iii) 90 days for all other cases;

    • (D) that a letter will be sent to the client, authorized representative, and local office by the AHO that constitutes the decision; and

    • (E) the local office is responsible for taking whatever action is required to carry out the decision made on the client's hearing.

(m) Closing the hearing.  The AHO closes the hearing.

     Revised 9-15-14

1.The employee most familiar with the issues is usually the employee who was most involved in the protested decision.If this person is not available, the person's supervisor presents the case.In some instances, such as Developmental Disabilities Services (DDS) cases, it is more appropriate for another employee, such as a programs manager to present the case.

2.Order of presentation.

(1) The administrative hearing officer (AHO) will normally begin the presentation of evidence by asking for short statements from the representative of the local office and the client regarding the reason for appeal.The AHO may aid in development of these statements.

(2) The AHO makes a brief summary of these statements in order to define the point(s) at issue.

(3) The AHO explains:

(A) the testimony and other evidence presented by the representative of the local office is confined to the factual information and verifications used in reaching the decision made by the local office on the point(s) at issue; and

(B) any presentation by or on behalf of the client is related to the point(s) at issue.

(4) Evidence.

(A) The Oklahoma Department of Human Services (DHS) representative usually presents evidence first, including witnesses and non-testimonial evidence.

(B) The client presents evidence after the DHS presentation is completed.

(C) DHS may present rebuttal evidence, and the client surrebuttal, until both sides, in the judgment of the AHO, have adequately addressed all issues.

(D) Each party is given a reasonable time in which to complete its case.The hearing is not considered complete until both sides have been given a reasonable opportunity to present evidence and complete their arguments.

(E) The testimony of each witness is subject to appropriate cross-examination by the opposing party and questioning by the AHO.

3.For example, when the point at issue has to do with the value of property, it is necessary to establish that the person giving evidence is qualified to do so.

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