The following words and terms, when used in this Part, shall have the following meanings, unless the context clearly indicates otherwise:
"Access to the entire case file" means the client and authorized representative have, with the exceptions described in this Section, the right to review the entire contents of the case file(s) that relates to the issue(s) appealed, and all documents and records to be used by the Oklahoma Department of Human Services (DHS) at the hearing.
- (A) Certain documents and information within the case file are made confidential by state and federal laws and therefore are not available to the client or authorized representative, unless such information is to be used by DHS at the hearing. Confidential documents and information include:
- (i) child abuse or neglect reports including the names and information from complainants;
- (ii) psychological and medical reports, unless there are written releases from both the author and the patient;
- (iii) information from other family members unrelated to the appeal;
- (iv) information from references or witnesses, unless there is a written release of information; and
- (v) confidential Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) information.
- (B) The review may be made at a reasonable time before the date of the hearing as well as during the hearing.
- (i) When a request for file access is made, the local office must make arrangements for the client, authorized representative, or both to review the case file with as much privacy as possible.
- (ii) A supervisory staff member observes the review of the case file to ensure the contents of the case file are not removed from the record.
- (iii) The client and authorized representative are free to make written notes from the record or make copies of documents.
- (iv) A client or representative is not charged for copies of documents made for the purpose of hearing preparation or presentation.
"Administrative hearing officer (AHO)" means:
- (A) the DHS employee designated by the Appeals Unit supervisor to conduct an administrative hearing. The AHO may not have had a part in the action or failure to act, which is the subject of the appeal; or
- (B) a lawyer who has a contract with DHS to preside over administrative hearings that are the responsibility of the Appeals Unit, and designated by the Appeals Unit supervisor to preside over a particular case.
"Appeals Committee" means the committee that makes the hearing decision, consisting of:
- (A) the AHO who presided over a hearing;
- (B) the division director of the affected program or the division director's designee. The designee must report directly to the division director; and
- (C) the Appeals Unit supervisor. If the Appeals Unit supervisor made, or helped make the decision that led to the action that is the subject of a hearing, a lawyer employed by DHS Legal Services is designated by the supervisor to vote in his or her place. The DHS Director has the authority to alter the members as he or she deems appropriate.
"Appeals Unit" means the unit established within Legal Services responsible for conducting administrative hearings.
"Appeals Unit supervisor" means the person designated by the DHS general counsel to supervise the Appeals Unit.
"Authorized representative" means a person authorized by the client to represent him or her in the hearing process.
- (A) Any party may be represented by a lawyer, or legal intern, licensed by the Supreme Court of Oklahoma.
- (B) A party may be represented by a non-lawyer only when federal law requires that non-lawyer representatives are allowed. Appeals in which non-lawyer representatives may appear include, but are not limited to:
- (i) SNAP;
- (ii) Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF);
- (iii) SoonerCare, Oklahoma's medical assistance program authorized per Section 1396, et seq. of Title 42 of the United States Code;
- (iv) State Supplement Payment for the Aged, Blind, and Disabled;
- (v) TANF Emergency Assistance;
- (vi) services for persons with developmental disabilities; and
- (vii) Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program.
- (C) If the representative is not a lawyer, DHS must verify the authority of the person to represent the client through:
- (i) personal contact with the client;
- (ii) an original written authorization signed by the client; or
- (iii) in instances where the client is unable to give oral or written authorization, a non-lawyer may represent a client when the proposed representative is a:
- (I) friend or relative, and circumstances show the proposed representative is knowledgeable about the issues involved in the case and will act in the client's best interest; or
- (II) vendor of services relating to the issue in dispute and has no interests adverse to the client; there is no friend or relative who is willing and able to adequately represent the client; circumstances show the vendor is knowledgeable about the issues involved in the case and will act in the client's best interest.
- (A) an applicant for DHS services or payments in any of the programs per Oklahoma Administrative Code (OAC) 340:2-5-61; or
- (B) a recipient of DHS services or payments in any of the programs per OAC 340:2-5-61.
"DHS" means the Oklahoma Department of Human Services.
"Fair hearing" means an administratiave hearing held pursuant to Section 168 of Title 56 of the Oklahoma Statutes.
"Hearing" means the process by which an AHO obtains evidence and makes a decision regarding the protested action, or failure to act, by DHS.
"Hearing request" means a clear expression by a client or authorized representative of the client's desire to contest an action, or failure to act, by DHS through the presentation of testimony and evidence to an AHO. Except for SNAP, a hearing request must be made in writing and contain the signature of the client or authorized representative.
"Hearing summary" means a document prepared by the local office stating the reasons for the local office action or inaction. It provides the client with information needed to prepare for the hearing. The six areas covered in the hearing summary are described per OAC 340:2-5-66.
"Local office" means any part of DHS which is responsible for the act, or failure to act, which is the subject of the hearing request.
"Local staff member" means the particular staff member who was responsible for the protested action, or failure to act, and who represents DHS in activities during the time period extending from the client's request for a hearing through implementation of the hearing decision.
"OAC" means the Oklahoma Administrative Code, which contains the regulations promulgated by each state agency.
"Official record" means a record consisting of:
- (A) all evidence offered for introduction at the hearing;
- (B) an electronic recording of the hearing; and
- (C) the hearing decision.