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Fair Hearing Policy and Procedures in the CSFP

Nutrition Services Division Management Bulletin

Purpose: Policy

To: Commodity Supplemental Food Program Local Agencies

Number: USDA-CSFP-09-2012

Attention: Commodity Supplemental Food Program Administrator

Date: August 2012

Subject: Fair Hearing Policy and Procedures in the Commodity Supplemental Food Program

Reference: Title 7, Code of Federal Regulations, sections 247.15, 247.17, and 247.33

This Management Bulletin (MB) disseminates information regarding the fair hearing process for agencies administering the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP).

As outlined in Title 7, Code of Federal Regulations (7 CFR), sections 247.15 and 247.17; it is the responsibility of the Local Agency (LA) to alert CSFP applicants and participants in writing that they are no longer eligible for the CSFP. The notification of ineligibility must include:

  • Date of notification
  • Effective date of discontinuance (for current participants)
  • Applicant’s/Participant’s name
  • The reason(s) for ineligibility or discontinuance
  • The LA staff’s signature and title

The notification letter of ineligibility or discontinuance must be provided at least 15 days before the effective day of discontinuance. If an applicant or participant does not agree with the decision of ineligibility or discontinuance, they may appeal the decision through a fair hearing process in accordance with 7 CFR, Section 247.33. An appeal may be made verbally or in writing, and a request for a fair hearing may be arranged at the LA headquarters office. The LA must ensure that the applicants and participants understand their right to appeal any decision through the fair hearing process.

Commodity Supplemental Food Program Fair Hearing Policy and Procedures

All LAs must have an established fair hearing process. The CSFP Fair Hearing policy and procedures must include, at a minimum, the following provisions:

  • Allow at least 60 days from the date the LA mails or gives the individual the notification of ineligibility or discontinuance to request a fair hearing
  • Allow applicants or participants to request a fair hearing either verbally or in writing
  • Permit participants who appeal the discontinuance within the 15 day advance notification to continue to receive benefits until one of the following occurs:
    • A decision on the appeal is made by the hearing official
    • The participant’s certification period ends
  • Provide an individual with at least 10 days advance written notice of the time and place of the hearing, and include the rules of procedure for the hearing
  • Allow the applicant or participant the opportunity to:
    • Examine documents that support the LA’s decision before and during the hearing, as well as submit evidence to help establish facts and circumstances
    • Be assisted or represented by an attorney or other persons
    • Bring witnesses and present arguments
    • Question or refute testimony and evidence at the hearing
  • The LA may deny a request for a fair hearing when:
    • The hearing request is not received by the LA within 60 days from the date the LA mails or gives the applicant or participant the notification of adverse action
    • The request is withdrawn in writing by the individual requesting the hearing or by an authorized individual
    • The individual fails to appear, without good cause, for the scheduled hearing
Fair Hearing – Process
  • The hearing must be conducted by an impartial official who does not have any stake or personal involvement in the decision and who was not directly involved in the initial adverse action that resulted in the hearing
  • The hearing official is responsible for:
    • Administering oaths or affirmations
    • Ensuring that all relevant issues are considered
    • Ensuring that all necessary evidence for a decision is present at the hearing and included in the record of the hearing
    • Conducting the hearing in an orderly fashion and in accordance with due process
    • Making a hearing decision
  • The hearing official must:
    • Make a decision that complies with federal laws and regulations and is based on facts in the hearing record
    • Write a decision that summarizes the facts of the case, specifies the reasons for the decision, and identifies the evidence and the laws or regulations upholding the decision
Fair Hearing – Decision

A decision must be made and given to the applicant or participant, in writing, within 45 days of the request for the hearing, noting the facts, evidence and laws, and/or regulations supporting the decision. The LA must also provide the Nutrition Services Division a written copy of the hearing official’s decision within 30 days of the fair hearing.

  • If the decision is in favor of the individual, the receipt of benefits must begin within 45 days from the date the hearing was requested (if the applicant or participant is still eligible for the program)
  • If the decision is against an individual, the LA must discontinue benefits as soon as possible, or at a date determined by the hearing official
Fair Hearing – Record Maintenance

In addition to the hearing decision, a transcript or recording of the testimony or an official report of all that transpired at the hearing along with all exhibits, papers, and requests made must be maintained by the LA and must be available for public inspection and copying, in accordance with 7 CFR, sections 247.29(a) and 247.36(b).

If you have any questions regarding this MB, please contact Jacqueline Henderson, Manager, Distribution and Processing Unit, by phone at 916‑324-9758 or by e-mail at

Questions:   Nutrition Services Division | 800-952-5609
Last Reviewed: Monday, April 6, 2015

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