Appeal a DHS Decision

Who can appeal?

Anyone has the right to appeal any decision made by the Department of Human Services and to request an appeal hearing.  No one may limit or interfere with this right.

How do I file an appeal?

Filing an appeal is an easy thing to do.  All appeals must be requested in writing, except for Food Assistance and Medicaid appeals.  Food Assistance and Medicaid appeals can be made verbally.

You can write a letter explaining the reason you disagree with the Department's decision or you can complete an Appeal and Request for Hearing form. 

Appeal and Request for Hearing form

You can request this form from your worker or you can complete your request on-line.  You can use the Appeal and Request for Hearing English version or the Appeal and Request for Hearing Spanish version.  Please fill out the entire form and click the submit button at the bottom of the form.  Your appeal request will be sent directly to the Appeals Section.  Your worker will be notified of your appeal request, if applicable.

If you have questions on how to complete the Appeal and Request for Hearing form, you may call the Appeals Section at (515) 281-3094.

If you are writing a letter or you do not want to complete this form on-line, you can send or take your appeal request to your local office or you can submit it directly to the Appeals Section at:

      Department of Human Services
      Appeals Section
      1305 E Walnut Street, 5th Floor
      Des Moines, IA  50319
      Phone (515) 281-3094
      FAX (515) 564-4044
      Email:  appeals@dhs.state.ia.us


Is there a time limit on when I can file an appeal? 

You must file an appeal within the timeframes listed.  The time starts from the date on your Notice of Decision.

  • Family Investment Program (FIP) state tax or debtor offset - 15 days
  • Food Assistance state tax or debtor offset - 15 days
  • Medicaid state tax or debtor offset - 15 days
  • Child Support state or federal tax or debtor offset - 15 days
  • Food Assistance - 90 days
  • Medicaid – 90 days
  • Child abuse assessments - 90 days from the date on the Notice of Child Abuse Assessment
  • Adult abuse assessments – 6 months from the date on the Adult Protective Notification
  • All other appealable issues - 30 days or before the effective date of the adverse action

When the time limit for filing falls on a holiday or a weekend, the time will be extended to the next working day.

If you file your appeal within the appropriate timeframe and the Department determines you are eligible for a hearing, a hearing will be scheduled for you.

However, if any appeal is filed after the appropriate timeframe, but before 90 days, a hearing may still be granted if you are able to claim good cause.  You do not have to show good cause for filing a Food Assistance, Medicaid or child abuse appeal within the 90-day timeframe.

Any appeals filed after 90 days will not be granted a hearing, unless the appeal is related to adult abuse.  Any appeals filed after 6 months for adult abuse will not be granted a hearing. 

How do I claim good cause for not filing an appeal timely?

If your appeal is not filed within the timeframes listed above, but less than 90 days, a hearing may still be granted.

If you want to claim good cause, you will need to write a letter to the following address explaining why you were unable to file your appeal within the appropriate timeframes. 

    Department of Human Services
    Appeals Section
    1305 E Walnut St, 5th Floor
    Des Moines, IA  50319
    Phone (515) 281-3094
    FAX (515) 564-4044
    Email:  appeals@dhs.state.ia.us  


A hearing may be granted if one of the following reasons kept you from filing your appeal within the appropriate timeframes:

1.    A serious illness or death in your family.

2.    A family emergency or household disaster, such as a fire, flood or tornado.

3.    A failure to receive the Department's notice of adverse action for a reason beyond your control.  (Failure to notify the Department you moved will not be considered.)

4.    Other good cause beyond your control.

You will need to include written proof of your good cause claim.  Written proof includes such things as funeral notices, letters from physicians, newspaper articles, etc. that explain why you could not file your appeal timely.

If it is determined that you had good cause, your appeal will be scheduled for a hearing.  If it is determined that you do not have good cause, a letter will be sent to you indicating that if you disagree you may appeal that letter.  If you appeal that letter, a hearing will be scheduled with an Administrative Law Judge to determine if the Department correctly denied your good cause claim.  The hearing will not be about the merits of your case. 

What is a reconsideration process? 

Reconsideration is a review of the situation by a third party who was not involved in making the initial decision.
When you file an appeal for certain programs, you will need to complete the reconsideration process first.


If you file an appeal regarding services denied by the Iowa Foundation for Medical Care, Magellan Behavioral Health Care or a Medicaid HMO, you may be required to complete the reconsideration process with them before an appeal hearing may be granted.

If your appeal is denied as being premature, the denial letter will instruct you on how to complete the reconsideration process.

NOTE:  The reconsideration process does not apply to child abuse appeals.