Fair Hearing Appeals in New Jersey
The filing and processing of a Medicaid application is time-consuming and frustrating. You must assemble five (5) years’ worth of financial information and do everything reasonably requested of you by the county to achieve eligibility, yet many applicants and/or their representatives are roadblocked by the continual delays and/or demands for additional information. Often the applicant or their representative is unable to reach the case worker assigned to the application in order to obtain a status update or assistance when questions pertaining to the application come up. If this is your experience, you are not alone.
Then there are the denials based on the caseworkers’ subjective opinion of what is “legal” and what is not. They impose incorrect penalty periods and take positions that are clearly illegal. Since they are the face of government, most people give up. They shouldn’t.
The blame does not lie with County employees; rather it belongs to a system which is designed to frustrate, delay and then deny applications. New Jersey has made a calculated gamble that if they make the application process hard enough people will either walk away or delay their compliance, thus saving the State the funds necessary to provide long term care for its elderly residents. However, you have rights!
How Does One Appeal a Denial of Medicaid Eligibility in New Jersey?
If the County Board of Social Services fails or refuses to process your application within the mandated 30/45 review period, you are entitled to file an appeal. Further, if your application is denied for any reason whatsoever or the way in which the application is being processed is unlawful, you have the right to file an appeal. If unreasonable and/or conditions of the approval are imposed, you have the right to appeal. This appeal is called a Fair Hearing Appeal. Fair Hearing Appeals in NJ must be filed within twenty (20) days of a denial or other action taken by the County Board of Social Services. Time is of the essence. If you file your appeal late, it is subject to being dismissed.
A Fair Hearing Appeal is a lawsuit against the County Board of Social Services, the administrative agent of New Jersey Medicaid. It is a lawsuit against the county which gives you an opportunity to present your case before a New Jersey Administrative Law Judge. An Administrative Law Judge is a quasi-judicial official who is an attorney by education and training and who has achieved the status of Administrative Law Judge by appointment from the Governor. An Administrative Law Judge hears the evidence and decides on the merits of your appeal. Like any judicial proceeding the burden of proof is upon you to prove your case. This means that you must produce direct evidence by testimony, documents and information which is relevant to the reasons why the appeal was taken. The case is often heard in an informal setting by a single judge and unlike the TV shows you may be familiar with, there is no jury or other sophisticated courtroom accessories. The appeal setting is generally with the Judge, representatives of the county and you, each producing evidence to create a record which is maintained in audio form.
To be successful you must be prepared, factually and legally. Generally, Fair Hearing appeals should be undertaken with the assistance of legal counsel who is experienced in Courtroom cases and litigation otherwise you may fail to follow the correct procedural rules and/or produce the necessary evidence to win governing fair hearing appeals. Here at Hanlon Niemann & Wright, we regularly represent clients in their fair hearing appeal throughout New Jersey. We are courtroom experienced, tested and not afraid of the bureaucracy. We know the law. We know what the state can and can’t get away with and the state knows that “we know”. That’s a benefit to you.
Appealing Penalties When Your Medicaid Application Has Been Denied in New Jersey
When my county Board of Social Services denied my Medicaid application after waiting months for a decision, my daughter was referred to Fred Niemann (with offices in Monmouth County and Bergen County, NJ). He fully explained our options and immediately filed a fair hearing appeal. His assistants re-filed the Medicaid application and he and his staff aggressively and professionally prepared the legal papers needed for the appeal. The matter was successfully resolved, bringing us peace of mind after many months. I am so appreciative of Mr. Niemann and his caring staff for doing a difficult job I could not handle myself.
– Maryann McDaniel, Oakhurst, New Jersey
What is the Legal Effect of an Administrative Law Decision on Your New Jersey Medicaid Application?
An Administrative Law Judge can reverse a denial of eligibility by the County Board of Social Services and other adverse decisions made by the County. Unfortunately, this does not necessarily end the matter. By law, the Director of New Jersey Medicaid has forty five (45) days to either uphold, modify or reverse the decision of the Administrative Law Judge. This means that while you may win before the Administrative Law Judge, the Director of New Jersey Medicaid has the authority to reverse the decision in full or in part. If this happens you still have rights. You have the right to appeal the Director’s decision to the Appellate Division of the New Jersey Superior Court. This appeal is a matter of right and is decided by a three (3) Judge panel at the State Capitol in Trenton, New Jersey. The Appellate Division will review the evidence, testimony and documents submitted before the Administrative Law Judge and will evaluate whether the Director’s decision is lawful or a violation of New Jersey Law and/or on Federal Medicaid Law.
Often, an appeal to the Appellate Division is necessary in order to reverse what is often times an incorrect and/or arbitrary decision by the Director. And, unlike an Administrative Law Hearing, the Director of New Jersey Medicaid cannot override a decision of the New Jersey Superior Court.
Final thoughts on Denial of a Medicaid Application by a Fair Hearing Appeal
In this age of reduced public resources and New Jersey’s hostile environment towards Medicaid eligibility, it is important that you know your rights to Appeal. Just because the County is hostile towards your application and/or denies your application, you have a legal right under federal law to appeal New Jersey and the County Board of Social Services. One should have a denial of eligibility or other adverse decision reviewed by an experienced New Jersey Medicaid Law attorney familiar with the Medicaid process and receive a legal opinion on the likelihood of a successful appeal, particularly when nursing home and assisted living care costs exceed $5,000 – $12,000 per month.
Do you have questions concerning your rights to file a Fair Hearing Appeal in New Jersey or want a legal opinion on the likelihood of your success? Do you have any questions about your rights of appeal or wish to challenge an adverse decision by the County or the State? Contact Fredrick P. Niemann, Esq. toll-free at (855) 376-5291 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. You will find him knowledgeable in Medicaid eligibility law, sensitive, and easy to talk to. Mr. Niemann has tried many cases before juries, Superior Court Judges, the New Jersey Appellate Division of Superior Court, the Supreme Court of New Jersey as well as the U.S. District Court and the Third Circuit Court of Appeals.
Written by Fredrick P. Niemann, Esq. of Hanlon Niemann & Wright, a New Jersey Medicaid Attorney