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What should I know for dealing with administrative agencies?

Many different administrative agencies are responsible for important parts of our life, such as income, health insurance, and housing.  But dealing with the agencies that handle these benefits can be very difficult.  The following information will help when trying to solve a problem with an administrative agency.

Some common administrative agencies are the Social Security Administration, Veterans Administration, Internal Revenue Service, Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, public housing authorities, and the Office of Child Support Services.  Even though each agency has its own rules, there are some common policies.  All administrative agencies:

  • Must give written notice when benefits or services are denied, reduced or terminated and tell you the reason for that decision;
  • The notice must tell you how to “appeal” or challenge the decision if you disagree with it;
  • The notice must tell you how much time you have to request an appeal, and whether or not your benefits will continue while you appeal;
  • You have a right to appoint an authorized representative to deal with the administrative agency for you, and each agency usually has a form to fill out if you want to do so;
  • Administrative agencies all have complaint or grievance procedures you can use if you have a problem with the agency, and the procedure for each agency should be available online or at the office;
  • Most final decisions of administrative agencies can be appealed to court but only AFTER you follow the agency process first.

When dealing with an administrative agency, you can maximize your chances for success and minimize your frustration if you:

  • Keep copies of all papers that you give the agency;
  • Keep a phone log of all calls you place to the agency, and who you speak with when you call;
  • Keep a calendar where you write down important deadlines in your appeal;
  • Attend all appointments scheduled with the agency or call at least 24 hours in advance to cancel;
  • Respond to all requests from the agency for additional information, and keep a record of what you provide and when you provided it; and
  • Give the agency your current phone number and address any time your contact information changes.

While these tips may help you deal directly with administrative agencies, some times you might need help from a lawyer.  Call Legal Aid at 1-888-817-3777 to apply for help with denials, reductions, terminations and over-payments of many public benefits.


This article appeared in The Alert: Volume 30, Issue 3. Click here to read a full PDF of this issue!

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