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RULE §357.23Hearings Officer Decision and Actions

(a) Time Limits for Issuing Decisions.

  (1) SNAP hearings--60 days from the date the appeal request is received by the agency or designee.

  (2) Non-SNAP hearings--90 days from the date the appeal request is received by the agency or designee.

  (3) The time limit for issuing a decision may be extended by as many days as the fair hearing is postponed or recessed at the request of the appellant.

(b) Decisions by Hearings Officer. The hearings officer issues a decision based exclusively on testimony and evidence introduced at the hearing. The hearings officer must:

  (1) issue a written decision in English;

  (2) provide the appellant with a copy of the decision; and

  (3) provide a translated cover letter in Spanish for hearing decisions where a Spanish interpreter was used. The cover letter instructs the appellant to call the hearings officer if he needs assistance to understand the decision. An appellant who indicates by telephone, in person, or in writing that assistance is needed to understand the decision must receive an explanation of the hearing decision from bilingual personnel within a reasonable period.

(c) Sustained Decisions in THSteps Appeals--If the decision sustains the agency action reducing, suspending, denying, or terminating a requested service:

  (1) on the basis that there is no federal financial participation, the decision must contain an explanation of the basis for the hearings officer's decision, applying the state and federal law to the individual's particular request; or

  (2) on the basis that the service is not medically necessary, the decision must contain an explanation of the medical basis for the hearings officer's decision, applying the agency's policy or the accepted standards of medical practice to the individual's particular medical circumstances; and

  (3) All THSteps decisions must contain legal authority, purpose of the hearing, procedural history, summary of evidence, relevant authorities, findings of fact, and conclusions of law.

(d) Decisions that are Reversed. The hearings officer reverses a decision of the agency or designee if the action or inaction is not supported by the evidence introduced at the hearing, and is not supported by statutes, policies, or procedures applicable at the time the action or inaction occurred. The agency may be instructed to issue retroactive payments or restored benefits in accordance with applicable rules, regulations, and statutes.

(e) Decisions that are Upheld. The hearings officer upholds a decision of the agency or its designee if the action is in accordance with statutes, policies, and procedures introduced at the hearing.

(f) Reopened Hearings--Appellant. The hearings officer may reopen an appeal and reconsider the decision if, within 12 months of the decision date, the appellant presents evidence that:

  (1) the hearings officer has determined the information would have affected the outcome of the original decision;

  (2) shows the original decision was not valid; and

  (3) was not presented at the hearing by the appellant.

(g) Authority of the Hearing Officer to Re-issue a Decision. The hearings officer has the authority to withdraw, revise, and re-issue a decision. The hearings officer may re-issue the decision within 20 days of the date of the original decision if the hearings officer becomes aware of an error of law or fact that would have affected the outcome of the decision.

Source Note: The provisions of this §357.23 adopted to be effective June 29, 2009, 34 TexReg 4292

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