Fair Hearing Help NY, a free, website for New Yorkers representing themselves at administrative hearings with the New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA), is up and running and ready to help. It was launched by the Legal Aid Society, Empire Justice Center and New York Legal Assistance Group in partnership with Columbia Law School’s Lawyering in the Digital Age Clinic.

Its goal is to help New Yorkers navigate the complex process of administrative hearings and offer information that will allow them to more fully participate and exercise their due process rights.

So, what does “self-representation” mean for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities? The website is also helpful for a family member or caregiver who is going to assist someone else at their fair hearing, according to Anne K. Callagy, citywide director, Government Benefits Practice, the Legal Aid Society.

When an individual’s benefits, such as SNAP, are reduced, discontinued, or the application is denied, they can request a Fair Hearing. A Fair Hearing allows the individual to make their case and the agency will review the decision.

According to OTDA’s Annual Report, 155,662 hearings were requested in New York State in 2022. Ninety-seven percent of Appellants are not represented by counsel.

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