The appeals process

You have the right to appeal any VR counselor determination with which you disagree. CAP can help you to file an appeal.

 

Step 1 REQUEST FOR HEARING

To file an appeal, you must write a letter to the Commissioner of the Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services. You must explain why you disagree with your counselor’s determination and the services that you want from VR. Your letter should also include your counselor’s name and the location of the counselor’s office.

You will receive acknowledgement of your appeal request from VR and you will be given a choice of either an Informal Administrative Review or an Impartial Hearing. If you choose an Informal Administrative Review, the district administrator of your local VR office will listen to both sides and make a decision. At your IAR, you will be given an opportunity to state your concerns and the services you need to achieve your vocational goal.

 

Step 2 MEDIATION OPTION

You may request mediation by an impartial, unrelated third party at any time before you attend your formal Impartial Hearing. Mediation does not deny or delay your right to a hearing.

 

Step 3 IMPARTIAL HEARING

An Impartial Hearing Officer (IHO) will be selected at random from a pool of hearing officers. This officer is someone outside the agency who will listen to both sides of your case. The Impartial Hearing must be held within 60 days after your appeal request is received.

An Impartial Hearing is a formal administrative process, and a record will be kept of it. You may have a representative or attorney with you. CAP can help you prepare and may be able to represent you. If you want CAP’s assistance, you should get the program involved as soon as possible, since it takes time to prepare for an Impartial Hearing. After the Impartial Hearing Officer has listened to everyone, he or she has 30 days to render a decision in writing.

 

Step 4 REVIEW OF IMPARTIAL HEARING DECISION

A. State Official Review

After you are notified of the hearing decision, either you or VR can request a review of the decision made by the Impartial Hearing Officer within 20 days of that decision. The reviewing official can be the chief official of the designated State agency or an official from the governor’s office. The reviewing official must give you the chance to present additional information and present your side of the story. The reviewing official cannot change the Hearing Officer’s decision if it was favorable to you unless the hearing officer’s decision was not consistent with state or federal law, the Rehabilitation Act itself, or state regulation or policy. The reviewing official’s decision must be in writing and this decision is final unless you go to court.

B. Filing a Civil Action

After the Impartial Hearing Officer renders his or her decision, you can also file a civil action in state or federal court. The court will review the IHO’s decision and may permit you to provide additional evidence and testimony. You may contact CAP to find out if we will represent you in a civil action.