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What Are Basic Public Assistance Rights



It is very important to try to help yourself if you have a dispute about any public aid program, such as: Medicaid, Food Stamps, TANF, Fuel Assistance, and General Assistance. This brochure is a summary of your basic rights.

You have the right to:

  1. Apply in writing for any type of public aid money or services. Simply talking to a Social Services worker is not an application. Applications are written documents.
  2. Receive a prompt written decision con cerning your eligibility.
  3. Receive a full explanation from the Social Services office of all your rights; including the ways you can best make sure you receive all the benefits available to you.
  4. Be treated politely by all public workers, and in a way that does not unnecessarily invade your privacy.
  5. Run your own personal life. For example, an eligibility worker, case worker or welfare agency cannot tell you who you can have as friends or who you can date.
  6. Complain to your eligibility worker’s supervisor or case worker’s supervisor, if you believe you are not being treated fairly.
  7. Seek the help of any public worker to have anything you do not understand explained to you.
  8. Live in housing which meets the city building codes.
  9. Spend your money the way you want to.
  10. Live anywhere you wish, regardless of race, creed, color, how much money you make, or whether you receive public aid, as long as you pay the house or rental payments.
  11. Belong to any organization.
  12. Receive understandable, correct, timely, written notice before your public aid is ended or modified.
  13. Appeal from any decision to change or stop your public aid. You must request this appeal immediately upon receiving the notice. If you wish your benefits to continue pending your appeal, you must appeal within 10 days of the date of the notice.
  14. Appeal any denial of benefits. You must request this appeal immediately upon receiving the notice.
  15. Have a “fair hearing” before an Administrative Law Judge. Before the hearing, you have a right to see and copy anything in your public aid file.
  16. Be represented at the appeal hearing by an attorney, paralegal, advocate or any other person of your choice.
  17. Appeal the decision of the Administrative Law Judge and the State Department of Human Services to a court of law.

DISCLAIMER: This information is not legal advice. If you have a legal problem, you should talk to a lawyer and ask for advice about your options.

Reviewed January 2019
Published by Legal Services of ND