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Petitioning for Superior Court Review: When you disagree with a DSHS/HCA benefits administrative hearing

If you appealed an agency decision about your public benefits and lost your administrative hearing, you can appeal the administrative law judge's decision. This packet explains when and how to do so, and has forms you can use. Packet #7917EN

Please Note:

  • Read this only if you live in Washington State.

The Basics

  1. Check if the Administrative Order you want to appeal is an Initial Order or Final Order.
  2. If it is an Initial Order, you are not ready to use this packet just yet. You must first file an appeal with the Board of Appeals (BOA). If you then disagree with the BOA's decision, you can use this packet to appeal that decision.
  3. If the Order is a Final Order, you can use this packet now.
  4. Figure out your deadline for filing your Petition for Review of an Administrative Order.
  5. Decide your legal reasons for filing the Petition.
  6. Decide if you will file your Petition in the Superior Court in the county where you live or in Thurston County (in Olympia).
  7. Figure out if there will be a fee to file your Petition with the court. If there will, decide if you should ask the court to waive (cancel) the fee.     
  8. Fill out the forms in this packet. Fill out the waiver of filing fee forms if needed.
  9. Attach the Initial Order (if there is one) and Final Order in your case to your Petition.
  10. Make three copies of your Petition and attachments.
  11. File your Petition and attachments with the court.  Pay the filing fee or get a court order waiving it.
  12. Have a copy of the Petition and attachments served on the agency, office of attorney general, and all other parties. Make sure you have proof of service.
  13. Wait to get information on how to ask for a copy of your hearing transcript. Decide if you need to do this.
  14. Wait to hear from the Assistant Attorney General (AAG). Discuss the case with the AAG. Consider trying to settle.
  15. Schedule the case for hearing.
  16. File more paperwork as needed. 
  17. Get ready for trial if you cannot settle the case.
  18. Go to trial.

Yes, if you are appealing a Final Order from an administrative hearing with an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) or Board of Appeals review.

If you disagree with something that the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) or Health Care Authority (HCA) does and you have not yet had a hearing, read Representing Yourself at an Administrative Hearing to learn more.

  • The information we give here relates to DSHS cases like TANF, food stamps, licensing, and childcare; and HCA cases like Medicaid, including long-term care. For more about DSHS cases, see WAC 388-02-0217 and 388-02-0600.  For HCA cases, see WAC 182-526-0560 through 182-526-0595.

If you disagree with the final decision from your administrative hearing, you can appeal your case to Superior Court. This appeal is called a Petition for Review of an Administrative Order. You will file this Petition in the Superior Court of the county where you live or in Thurston County Superior Court in Olympia.

This explains when and how to petition the Superior Court for review. It is not easy. Do not get discouraged. You may need to read this several times or ask someone about it.

The laws on petitions for judicial review are at RCW 34.05.510 through .598.

This packet has forms you can use for Petition for Review of an Administrative Order and Declaration of Service.

Yes. You must first finish the appeals process. If you do not, the Superior Court cannot hear your case. This process has two steps:

  • An administrative hearing with an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) from the Office of Administrative Hearings AOH)
  • A Board of Appeals (BOA) Review. If the ALJ's decision is a Final Order, skip this step

The ALJ's decision will say it is either an Initial Order or a Final Order. You must appeal an Initial Order to the BOA before you can file in Superior Court. This is confusing, but very important.

In HCA cases, the ALJ's written decision is always an Initial Order. Read Representing Yourself at an Administrative Hearing to learn more.

You must file and serve a Petition for Review within 30 days of the final administrative order. The 30 days starts from the date on the decision, not the date you got it.

Below we explain:

  • what the Petition must say
  • how and where to file it
  • who must get copies of the petition (service)
  • how to serve it

Filing the petition

Generally, you can only raise issues and arguments in your petition that you made at the hearing.

There are a few exceptions, including:

  • New facts you could not have discovered before, if you are challenging a DSHS or HCA rule (WAC)
  • You did not get notice of the administrative hearing

For more about raising new issues, see RCW 34.05.554.

Only in a very few cases. Generally, the judge reviews only testimony and documents filed in the administrative process.

You can sometimes add new facts you could not have discovered earlier, or facts the judge, DSHS or HCA improperly kept out of the record. If important facts are missing, the court can send the case back to the ALJ ("remand" the case) to get them. See RCW 34.05.562.

  • If you are arguing a DSHS or HCA rule is not legal (invalid), you must prove specific reasons for that. RCW 34.05.570 (2).

You must be able to prove your case. The court will change the decision only for limited reasons. Those reasons are in section 6 of the attached Petition for Review form and in RCW 34.05.570 (3).

It must have the information listed here.

We put some of this information on the Petition form:

  • In the caption, you must check the box showing if you must pay a filing fee in this case. See "Is there a Fee to File the Petition," below.
  • Your name and mailing address.
  • The name and mailing address of the agency whose decision you disagree with.
  • A statement identifying the decision you are appealing by agency (DSHS or HCA), type (usually "Final Order"), issuing agency ("Board of Appeals" or "Office of Administrative Hearings)," the date the agency issued it, and the docket number. That number is on the upper right-hand side of the first page of the order.
  • Names of the parties in the administrative hearing - usually you and DSHS or HCA.
  • A statement that you have timely filed the petition with the proper court, have used (exhausted) the administrative remedies, and are aggrieved by the decision you are appealing. The form in this packet already says this.
  • Why you think the decision is wrong. Use the blank lines on the form. If you need more room, put "see attached" in these lines. Then attach an extra sheet titled "Petition, Paragraph 6."
  • What you want the court to do. Examples: "I ask the court to reverse the administrative hearing decision and award me TANF benefits without a sanction back to the date DSHS sanctioned me." "I ask the court to reverse the administrative hearing decision and restore my TANF benefits back to January 1, 2021." "I ask the court to change the administrative hearing decision and stop DSHS from collecting the overpayment."

You do not need to go into detail here. You will have a chance to go into more detail (brief the issues) later.  

  • You should type your petition. If you cannot type, you should print neatly.

Yes. Attach a copy of it to the Petition. If that decision is an "Initial Order," you should also attach your Final Order from the BOA.

  • Make three copies of your Petition for Review and attachments.
  • File the original with the Superior Court Clerk. You may file in your own county or Thurston County.
  • The Clerk will stamp it with a number. Put that number on the three copies, too. Most clerks also have a date stamp you can use on your copies to show when you filed them.

It depends. There is no charge for filing a petition involving a public assistance program under DSHS or HCA.  RCW 74.08.080(3) (DSHS public assistance); RCW 74.09.741 (8) (HCA).

Non-public assistance cases have a filing fee.  These may involve decisions by the Division of Child Support (DCS), eligibility through the Developmental Disabilities Administration (DDA), licensing issues, and appeal of Child Protective Services (CPS) or Adult Protective Services (APS) abuse findings. The fee can be from $36 to $280. It depends on the type of case and county.

You can file a motion asking the court to waive (forgive) the filing fee. Our Ask the Court to Waive Your Filing Fee packet has forms and instructions. 

You must serve copies of your petition on DSHS or HCA (depending on what type of case it is), the Office of the Attorney General, and any other parties.   

To serve DSHS, you must deliver a copy of the petition to the DSHS Board of Appeals (BOA). You can hand-deliver it or send it by mail that gives proof of receipt.

DSHS BOA's location:

Office Building 2, First Floor Information

1115 Washington St. SE

Olympia, WA 98504-5803

Phone: (360) 664-6100

Toll free: 1-877-351-0002

TTY: (360) 664-6178

Fax: 1-360-664-6187

DSHS BOA's mailing address:

DSHS Board of Appeals
P.O. Box 45803
Olympia, WA 98504-5803

To serve HCA, you must deliver a copy of the petition to the director of HCA and send a copy to the HCA Board of Appeals (BOA). You may hand deliver the petition or send it by mail that gives proof of receipt.

The HCA director's location:

Director

Health Care Authority

626 8th Avenue SE

Olympia, WA 98501

The HCA director's mailing address:

Director

Health Care Authority

P.O. Box 45502

Olympia, WA 98504-5502

HCA BOA's location:

626 8th Avenue SE

Olympia, WA

HCA BOA's mailing address:

P.O. Box 42700

Olympia, WA  98504-2700

Phone: 1-844-728-5212

Fax: 360-507-9018.

Hand delivery address of Office of the Attorney General:

7141 Cleanwater Dr. SW

Tumwater, WA 98504.

 

To serve the Office of the Attorney General and any other parties, send a copy of the Petition for Review by regular mail.

Office of the Attorney General's mailing address:

Office of the Attorney General
P.O. Box 40100
Olympia, WA 98504-0124

Keep the Post Office's proof that you mailed the envelope.

You must file and serve your Petition for Review of an Administrative Order within thirty days of the date on the final administrative order.

  • No matter how you serve, DSHS or HCA and the Attorney General must get the petition by the deadline.

Keep the final copy of the Petition for yourself.

Save the post office receipt(s) showing delivery. They are proof of any documents you serve by mail. For any hand-delivered documents, the person who served them must sign a "Declaration of Personal Service." That form is in this packet.

After filing the petition

The Record - In about a month, you will get a copy of the documents and decisions from your administrative hearing and any BOA review. There should be information about how to get a typed-out version of the hearing, including any testimony (a transcript). You should get the transcript if you think the facts in the decision are not correct. You may not need the transcript if you agree with the facts as written. If you have a low income, you will not have to pay for the transcript.

The State's Representative - An Assistant Attorney General (AAG) will represent DSHS or HCA. The AAG will send you a "Notice of Appearance" with their name, address, and phone number. After you get this, you must send this AAG a copy of any further papers you file with the court. This is your first chance to try to settle the case. Call the AAG. Talk about why you think the administrative decision is wrong. The AAG might contact you as well. The AAG cannot give you legal advice.

Scheduling (Setting) Your Case for Trial - Next, you must set your case for a hearing in the Superior Court so a judge can hear and decide the case. Every county does this differently. Contact the Clerk's Office of the Superior Court where you filed your case. Ask how to set a Petition for Review case for trial. The form you must fill out will probably be a "Note (or Notice) for Trial Setting." The Clerk will have the right form. You must fill out the form and make two copies. File the original with the Court Clerk.  Send a copy to the AAG (and any other parties). Keep a copy for yourself.

Yes. You can contact the AAG to try to settle your case before or after setting it for trial. If you get a settlement and are happy with it, get it in writing. You, the AAG, and any other parties must sign it. You must file your settlement agreement in the court file. It should state that the matter is resolved and the judge should dismiss your case.

Your case will go to trial, unless you decide to dismiss it.

You must go to court on the scheduled date and tell the judge why you think you should get what you asked for.  The last point in "What should the Petition say," above, has examples. You must prove DSHS or HCA was wrong.

If you can, you should read the laws that apply to your case, especially RCW 34.05.570 (1) and (3). Tell the judge why the law and/or rules support your claim.

You cannot bring witnesses or offer new evidence. The judge will base the decision on the evidence presented at the administrative hearing by you and DSHS or HCA and the reasons you have given the judge why you should win.

Get Legal Help

Visit Northwest Justice Project to find out how to get legal help. 

Last Review and Update: Mar 16, 2022
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