Appeal a county decision

The CDHS Office of Appeals (OOA) serves as the CDHS executive director's designee for reviewing the Administrative Law Judge's (ALJ's) initial decisions when a client, licensee or vendor objects to an adverse action by CDHS, the counties or a CDHS contract agency. The OOA issues final agency decisions on behalf of the executive director.

About appeals

State Administrative Procedure Act appeals

Appeals governed by the State Administrative Procedure Act include appeals brought by applicants, recipients, program participants, licensees and vendors who are challenging adverse decisions made by CDHS, county departments of human/social services or agents of the state or county departments. The department programs that participate in the appeals process include:

  • Colorado Works
  • Adult financial assistance
  • Aid to the Needy-Disabled
  • Aid to the Blind
  • Food assistance
  • Low-income Energy Assistance Program
  • Child care
  • Child abuse and neglect reports
  • Subsidized adoption
  • Foster care and day care certification and licensing actions

Due process reviews

The OOA also conducts due process reviews for the following program areas:

  • Food assistance federal treasury offset appeals
  • MINDSOURCE Brain Injury Network
  • Child Care Licensing Act audit appeals

Reviews of this nature occur under the following circumstances:

  • The State Department chooses to have a due process review.
  • The statute requires or allows an appeal that is not governed by the State Administrative Procedure Act.
  • The nature of the review varies depending on the structure established by the State Department program area's statutes and rules. For some programs, the Office of Appeals provides a paper review; in other instances the Office of Appeals may, at its discretion, hold a hearing.

The role of Office of Administrative Courts

Appeals governed by the State Administrative Procedure Act involve a review or hearing before an ALJ at the Department of Personnel and Administration, Office of Administrative Courts. The ALJ prepares an Initial Decision based upon the evidence, review of documents, and applicable laws. The Initial Decision and case file are then sent to the Office of Appeals for review and final determination regarding the case.

The role of the Office of Appeals

OOA reviews the Initial Decision to ensure that the Administrative Law Judge\'s Initial Decision is supported by the weight of the evidence and to ensure that the ALJ's decision complies with the federal and state laws, regulations, and rules. The OOA will also review any Exceptions filed by the parties. Exceptions provide the Office of Appeals with an explanation as to why the parties have good cause to challenge the ALJ's decision.

After reviewing the complete file, the OOA will affirm, modify, or reverse the Initial Decision. The OOA also has the option to remand the matter by returning the case back to the ALJ for additional review and consideration when necessary. The Final Agency Decision serves as the official and final action of the State Department of Human Services, which concludes the administrative hearing process.

Implementing the final agency decision

The state department, county department, or its agent are responsible for implementing the final agency decision in compliance with state department rules. Action taken by the county department or state department to implement the final agency decision is not subject to further administrative appeal unless a new adverse action occurs.

Challenging and enforcing the final agency decision

Requesting reconsideration of the final agency decision

If you disagree with the Final Agency Decision and believe one of the two circumstances below applies, you can request that the Office of Appeals reconsider its decision. A request for reconsideration must be in writing, and it must be filed with the Office of Appeals within 15 days of the date provided in the Final Agency Decision Certificate of Mailing. No extensions of time can be granted. The Office of Appeals cannot consider any request filed after the 15-day time period.

For the Office of Appeals to consider a request for reconsideration a party must show that one or both of the following circumstances existed:

  • The party had good cause for failing to file Exceptions by the due date delineated in the Notice of Initial Decision. The party\'s request for reconsideration must also include the party's Exceptions to the Initial Decision.
  • The party shows that the Final Agency Decision is based upon a clear or plain error of fact or law. The party must show that the Office of Appeals based its decision upon a misunderstanding of the clear facts of the case, or has overlooked a rule, statute, or court decision that requires a different decision.

Written briefs which merely state support or a general dissatisfaction with the Final Agency Decision or administrative hearing process do not constitute a request for reconsideration. A document that includes new evidence or presents arguments properly considered and resolved against a party\'s position does not constitute a request for reconsideration. This process is limited to correcting an error that occurred in the course of the administrative hearing process.

If a request for reconsideration is timely, it will be sent to the opposing party for an opportunity to respond. Following the comment period, the Office of Appeals will issue an order either granting or denying the request for reconsideration. If a request for reconsideration is granted, the order will indicate that an Amended Final Agency Decision will follow or that the Final Agency Decision will be vacated and further action will be taken. The agency is required to implement the Final Agency Decision even if a request for reconsideration has been filed. Also, a request for reconsideration does not stay (stop the clock) the time period for requesting judicial review of the Final Agency Decision. The Office of Appeals may at its discretion amend the effective date of the Final Agency Decision, if this occurs, the time frame for filing an action in District Court, for filing a request for reconsideration and for implementing the Final Agency Decision would begin from the time of the amended effective date.

If a party has identified an error in the Final Agency and the error is obvious and undisputed, such as a typo or internal inconsistency in the Final Agency Decision, a Corrected Final Agency Decision is issued.

Review of the final agency decision in District Court

A party may also seek to have the Final Agency Decision reviewed in district court. Information about this process, including the time frame for filing an appeal, is included in Section 24-4-105 & 106 of the Colorado Revised Statutes. The timeframe for filing in district court is not modified by filing a Motion for Reconsideration, the two processes run simultaneously. The Office of Appeals does not have information about the District Court's requirements. For this information, please contact the Clerk of the Court for Denver District Court.

Complying with the final agency decision

The State or County Department or their agent is required to comply with the Final Agency Decision and act on the Final Agency Decision as delineated in the State Department's rules. A party is encouraged to contact their opposing party to obtain information about complying with a Final Agency Decision. If you are having difficulty communicating with your opposing party, contact the CDHS program area that oversees the program that was in dispute during the appeal. The CDHS program area that oversees the program at issue in the appeal is responsible for the enforcement of Final Agency Decisions. If you are having trouble locating a State Department program area contact, please call the Office of Appeals at 303.866.7447 and we will attempt to get you the contact information.

Communicating, filing documents and reviewing case files

Responding to questions

OOA can respond to questions about the administrative hearing and OOA procedures. Staff cannot provide legal advice or discuss the specifics of your case. Communication is limited to assisting you with understanding the processes included in our notices, instructions and this website. Parties to an appeal may call or schedule an appointment to talk with the OOA staff about these processes. If the OOA finds that a face-to-face appointment is appropriate, the party and the OOA will arrange an appointment time during normal business hours at the OOA offices. The OOA cannot accept drop-ins. An appointment is required.

Filing documents with the OOA

In order to ensure that the record is complete, parties need to communicate with the Office of Appeals in writing. Your documents can be filed by mail, by fax or be dropped off in person. We recommend filing by fax and that you call to confirm that the fax was received. If you wish to drop off your documents, this must occur within normal business hours. Staff will only retrieve your documents, staff will not be able to respond to your questions unless an appointment has been scheduled. The OOA does not use e-mail to answer questions concerning appeals or allow for E-filing of motions, requests or other submissions. It is the party's responsibility to ensure that documents are received by this office by the due dates delineated in the notices and orders. Postmark dates are not utilized.

Using a representative and updating your information

If the administrative record indicates that the party has a representative, such as an attorney, the Office of Appeals will send the Notice of Initial Decision and Initial Decision to the representative of record. If a party obtains a new representative or if the party's contact information or address changes, he/she is required to notify the OOA. The OOA will ask a party to provide the OOA written permission to communicate with someone who is not the representative of record.

Translator/interpreter services and other accommodation

When an individual requests translator/interpreter or needs accommodation, those requests need to be made via telephone or in writing. Such requests need to be made in a timely manner. The OOA responds to these requests on a case-by-case basis and utilizes the CDHS Civil Rights Unit to assess whether an accommodation is warranted.

Reviewing your case file

The case file (the record) is open for inspection by the parties, including the CDHS program area that oversees the subject matter of the appeal. Permission to examine the record should be requested by contacting the Office of Appeals. The Office of Appeals cannot accept drop-in requests. An appointment is required.

The record must be reviewed at the Office of Appeals offices during normal business hours. A record may not be removed for any purpose. To ensure the integrity of the record, the member of Office of Appeals staff will be present during the review. The staff person can respond to procedural questions but otherwise is instructed to not interact with the party.

For parties who have reviewed their case file and would like copies of certain documents, those documents can be identified at the time of the review and the Office of Appeals will make copies for you as discussed below. Individuals may also wish to contact their County Department or their opposing party for assistance of this nature as they may be more accessible and have different policies concerning the review and copying of materials.

Obtaining a copy of a document

While the OOA staff cannot screen and select documents on your behalf, we can review the record for a specific document and provide that to you. As a public service we provide requesters up to twenty pages of copies at no charge, however, for larger or continued requests for information we charge $0.25 per page. This cost offsets the expense (staff time, paper and copy costs) associated with fulfilling your request. The cost is $0.50 per page if we have to review and redact the material. Redacting is the process of striking information that is confidential and cannot be disclosed. If you would like to pay by check, checks can be written to the Colorado Department of Human Services.

Filing exceptions

Exceptions

The OOA will notify the parties, including the CDHS program area, that they may challenge the Initial Decision by filing Exceptions. Exceptions are written objections which state your disagreement with the Administrative Law Judge's decision. The Notice of Initial Decision will provide a specific due date for filing Exceptions (15 days plus 3 days for mailing from the day listed on the Notice of Initial Decision Certificate of Mailing. If the due date delineated on the Notice of Initial Decision falls on a weekend or state holiday, the due date is moved to the next business day).

In your Exceptions, tell the OOA what specific fact, rule or statute you disagree with and why. (Be sure to include your name and case number.) Written briefs which merely state support or a general dissatisfaction will not be treated as Exceptions. The OOA cannot consider any dispute other than the issues raised in the appeal before the Administrative Law Judge. The OOA cannot consider new evidence, which with reasonable diligence could have been produced at the time of the hearing or review. The OOA cannot consider any challenge to the facts of your case unless a transcript is provided, however, if you requested a Record Review of a child abuse/neglect Trails Report, there was no hearing and thus, no transcript is available or required when challenging the Administrative Law Judge's factual determinations. The Exceptions must be in writing and be filed with the OOA by the due date contained on the Notice of Initial Decision unless the Office of Appeals grants a request for an extension of the due date for filing Exceptions. Any Exceptions received by the OOA after the due date for filing Exceptions will not be considered.

Exceptions can be filed by mail, by fax or be dropped off in person. This office recommends filing by fax and that you call to confirm that the fax was received. Any person hand delivering their Exceptions is advised that the OOA staff will only retrieve the document, staff cannot respond to questions about the appeal process unless the individual has a scheduled appointment.

If your filing is timely and constitutes Exceptions, the Office of Appeals will send the Exceptions to the other parties so they have an opportunity to respond to your arguments. Similarly, if the opposing party files Exceptions, you will have the opportunity to respond. The response must be filed in writing by the due date delineated on the Notice of Exceptions. Responses are to address only the issues raised in the opposing party's Exceptions. The OOA does not provide copies of responses to Exceptions. Answers to, or comments on, written responses are not permitted even if a party filing a response provides a courtesy copy of his/her response to the other parties.

Transcripts and audio recordings

This information does not apply to a Record Review of a child abuse/neglect Trails Report. In those cases no hearing was held and thus, there is no transcript or recording of a hearing.

Transcripts

If you want to challenge the facts of your case, you must provide the OOA a transcript of the hearing. The OOA needs to review the documents in the case file and the testimony when considering a challenge to the findings of fact. The party filing the Exceptions is responsible for paying for the transcript and for filing the transcript by the due date for filing Exceptions. Transcripts are to be filed with a party's Exceptions, if a party needs additional time to file a transcript, a party must request additional time for filing Exceptions. Any transcript received by the OOA after the due date for filing Exceptions will not be considered.

Audio recording

If you cannot afford a transcript, you may request permission to file an audio recording. The request for permission to file an audio recording must be filed in writing (Be sure to include your name and case number). The request must explain your financial circumstances and why you cannot afford a transcript. The request must include an explanation as to why it is essential for the OOA to listen to testimony of a specific witness or witnesses. A County Department\'s request to submit an audio recording instead of a transcript must state that funds are not available in the County Department\'s operating budget to pay for preparation of a transcript and the request must be certified by the County Director. This request must be filed prior to the due date for filing Exceptions, any submission of an audio recording without first obtaining permission from the Office of Appeals will not be considered.

A party requesting permission to file an audio recording of the hearing is still responsible for filing Exceptions to the Initial Decision by the due date delineated in the Notice of Initial Decision unless an extension of time has been granted by the Office of Appeals. When a request for filing of an audio recording instead of a transcript is approved, the Office of Appeals will notify the parties. The requesting party is solely responsible for requesting the copy of the audio recording from the Office of Administrative Courts and for filing the audio recording with the Office of Appeals by the due date to file Exceptions or if an extension of time is granted, the new due date provided by the OOA.

Where to obtain a transcript or audio recording

To obtain the transcript or the audio recording, contact the Office of Administrative Courts:

Office of Administrative Courts
1525 Sherman St., 4th Fl.
Denver, CO 80203
303.866.2000

Where to file your exceptions and accompanying materials

Exceptions and the accompanying materials are to be filed with the OOA. Documents filed with the Office of Administrative Courts will not be considered by the OOA unless it is clear that the document constitutes Exceptions to the Initial Decision and the document is received by the due date for filing Exceptions.

Glossary and Terms
Term Definition
Administrative Law Judge

A licensed attorney employed by the Department of Personnel and Administration, Office of Administrative Courts to conduct hearings and enter decisions resolving disputes between the State Department, County Department, or their agents, and persons whose rights or benefits are affected by an agency action.

Administrative Procedure Act

Title 24, Article 4 of the Colorado Revised Statutes.

Burden of Proof

The duty to prove the disputed facts and establish the claim or allegation.

Conclusions of Law

The part of the Initial Decision where the ALJ states his/her interpretation of applicable statutes or rules.

De Novo Hearing

A new hearing, where the ALJ considers the evidence without regard to decisions made earlier (e.g., local evidentiary hearing or conference.) Review of an ALJ\'s Initial Decision is not a de novo review, the Office of Appeals may not modify or reverse the ALJ\'s Initial Decision unless there were errors in law or fact.

Exceptions

Written arguments about why an Initial Decision is incorrect and should be reversed or modified by the Office of Appeals, or remanded back to the ALJ for a rehearing, further fact finding or reconsideration of the legal conclusions.

Ex Parte Communication

Information which is shared or communicated to the ALJ or Office of Appeals without the knowledge of other parties or opportunity for the other parties to participate or rebut the information. §24-4-105(14) C.R.S. prohibits the ALJ and Office of Appeals from engaging in ex parte communications with any. The prohibition on ex parte communications is essential to maintaining impartiality and to assure that all of the parties are given a fair and equal opportunity to be heard. To ensure impartiality, the Office of Appeals cannot provide legal advice or discuss the specifics of a case, it can only speak with the parties about the Office of Appeals procedures.

Final Agency Decision

The decision entered by the Office of Appeals, as the Executive Director\'s designee, which will affirm, reverse or modify the decision of the ALJ. The Final Agency Decision serves as the official and final action of the Colorado Department of Human Services and issuance of the Final Agency Decision concludes the administrative hearing process. To challenge a Final Agency Decision an individual must file suit in district court as mandated by the Colorado Administrative Procedure Act, Title 24, Article 4, of the Colorado Revised Statutes and/or file a motion for reconsideration.

Findings of Fact

The ALJ\'s statement of the facts of the case, as established by evidence (documents and testimony) entered at the hearing. The findings will usually reflect that one party\'s evidence on the factual issues was more persuasive than the other party\'s or the findings may show that a party with the burden of proof on an issue failed to introduce enough evidence to meet that burden.

Good Cause

Includes, but is not limited to: death or incapacity of a party, or his/her representative, any other emergent occurrence preventing compliance with applicable deadlines, lack of proper notice of the Initial Decision of the ALJ, substitution of a party\'s representative or counsel, if the substitution is shown to be necessary and diligently pursued, or where additional time is required to obtain a transcript of a hearing and the party can show that the transcript was ordered in a timely manner and is necessary for preparation of the party\'s Exceptions. Good cause does not include: excessive workload of either the party or his/her representative, a party obtaining legal representation in an untimely manner, failure to receive the Initial Decision when a party has failed to advise the Office of Appeals of a change of address or a correct address, or, any other circumstance which was foreseeable or preventable.

Initial Decision

The written decision entered by an ALJ, usually after a hearing, which is subject to review by the Office of Appeals. Once an Initial Decision is entered, the ALJ no longer has jurisdiction to consider any further arguments or motions. Once the ALJ had entered an Initial Decision, jurisdiction transfers to the Office of Appeals.

Jurisdiction

Authority to resolve an issue in dispute.

Party of Interest

Is the individual or individuals directly affected by the action (i.e., Appellant, Petitioner, Respondent), the individuals\' designated representative or legal counsel, the County Department or its legal representative or authorized agent, the State Department, the relevant State Department program area or its legal representative or authorized agent. A party of interest does not include a physician or hospital, unless acting as the individual\'s representative, nor does it include a federal government agency.

The Record

The hearing record includes the request for hearing, motions and orders entered by the ALJ, notices sent by the Office of Administrative Courts, correspondence from the parties, and all documentary evidence admitted into evidence by the Appellant and agency representative as exhibits during the hearing in support of their positions. It generally includes application forms, case notes, eligibility documents, worksheets, and statements from employers or other collateral sources. Evidence is formally admitted into the record by the ALJ at the hearing, or after the hearing when the record is left open for filing additional documents. The Initial Decision and any written Exceptions, Responses to Exceptions, and transcripts (or audio recording) of the hearing filed with the Office of Appeals become part of the record after the hearing and will be part of the "state administrative record" certified to district court if judicial review is sought by the individual who filed the appeal.

Reasonable Diligence

A party made every reasonable effort to produce the evidence at the hearing and was without fault in the delay in submittal of the evidence.

Response to Exceptions

Written arguments, which respond to issues, raised or arguments made in an opposing party\'s Exceptions.

State Department Rules

An elaboration of state statute that requires or permits specific actions by the Department of Human Services and entities working on behalf of the Department. State rules are binding over applicants, recipients and the State or County Department or their agents only when the rules have been promulgated pursuant to Colorado Administrative Procedure Act (APA). State rules are published in the Code of Colorado Regulations and are available on the Secretary of State\'s website and the Department of Human Services\' website (unofficial copy).

Transcript

A written version of the hearing that was recorded electronically by the ALJ.

Requesting additional time

Requesting additional time to file exceptions

The Appeals Section may permit a party additional time to file Exceptions if the party establishes good cause for needing an extension. If you need additional time, you may file a written request to extend the due date for filing Exceptions. A request for additional time must be in writing (Be sure to include your name and case number). The request must include the specific reason why additional time is required. The request for an extension of time must be received in the Appeals Section before the due date for filing Exceptions. Any request for an extension received by the Appeals Section after the due date for filing Exceptions will not be considered.

The Appeals Section will issue an order which grants or denies the request for additional time so a party has the opportunity to file Exceptions prior to the due date for filing Exceptions. However, for any requests that are received on or near the due date for filing Exceptions, if the request is denied and the time for filing Exceptions has passed, the Appeals Section will not issue an order but rather recognize the denial of the request in the Final Agency Decision.

Unless less time is requested or the Appeals Section finds that a specific length of time is necessary based upon the nature of the request, it is the practice of the Appeals Section to grant an extension for fifteen days. The Appeals Section will not grant an extension of more than 30 days, except under very limited circumstances when doing so promotes fundamental fairness.

Representation and withdrawal of counsel

When an attorney seeks to withdraw from representing a client, the attorney must do so in compliance with the Colorado Rules of Civil Procedure. The Appeals Section also accepts a written statement from the Appellant that they changed or no longer have an attorney or representative.

Procedural orders

Procedural Orders may be issued when processing your case. Some orders may merely be a notification, others will provide the parties specific instruction. Some examples include:

Call for comment

A call for comment is a procedural order that allows the parties and the State Department program area to respond to a question or questions from the Appeals Section. This occurs when the Appeals Section has identified a significant issue of fact or law that has not been raised by the parties at the hearing, in the Exceptions or in the Response to Exceptions and parties would benefit from being able to comment on the issue.

Order of remand

An order of remand is a procedural order that occurs when the Appeals Section is returning a case to the Office of Administrative Courts. This can occur based upon a request contained in a party's Exceptions or when the Appeals Section requires additional information prior to entering the Final Agency Decision.

Contact

Office of Appeals
3550 W. Oxford Ave.
Denver, CO 80236
P 303.866.7447 | F 303.866.7644