A person who believes he or she has been discriminated against by DHS or by an agency, institution, or organization providing services as part of a DHS program, may file a written complaint with the DHS or the CAO. The CAO will make every effort to get the information from the person to support the claim. All complaints must be turned in within 180 days from the date when the event happened.
55 Pa. Code §107.4(c)
Anyone who is applying for or receiving a Federally-aided category of benefits may file a complaint directly with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). See Appendix A for the address.
If the claimed discrimination involves the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), a client can file a complaint with the DHS Bureau of Equal Opportunity, the Secretary of Agriculture, or the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS). See Appendix A for a list of offices where a complaint may be sent.
7 CFR 272.6(b)
FNS requires a separate complaint form and separate tracking of discrimination complaints received from SNAP clients. If a client filing a complaint received benefits from more than one program but the complaint is only about the SNAP program, then he or she should use the SNAP Complaint Form. If the complaint is not only about the SNAP program, then the client should use the PW 125 complaint form and process.
If the complaint filed by a client claims discrimination by an outside agency or provider, the CAO must find out (a) why the client believes he or she has been discriminated against, (b) exactly what happened, and (c) when it happened.
55 Pa. Code §107.4(c)(2)(iii)
The CAO must decide if the complaint is valid. If the CAO is unable to determine that there is a good reason for the complaint, the CAO must direct the client to the best office for more study. The CAO must also tell the client that he or she may file the complaint directly with the Bureau of Equal Opportunity or the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission.
55 Pa. Code §107.4(c)(2)(iv)
If the CAO worker decides that the complaint is valid, he or she should make a full report to the Bureau of Equal Opportunity’s Regional Compliance Officer within 30 days. The report should include a suggestion for correcting the problem.
Complaints submitted to DHS are looked into by the responsible program office together with the Bureau of Equal Opportunity.
SNAP complaints must be processed and a response must be sent to the person who filed the complaint within 60 calendar days of the receipt of the complaint. The response must explain all actions taken, tell who was interviewed, and explain the results. Each response must tell the person that he or she can appeal the DHS decision to the Secretary of Agriculture or the FNS Administrator.
After finishing its study, the Bureau of Equal Opportunity will submit a report with a recommendation to the Secretary of Human Services. The Secretary, along with legal advisors, will make the final decision.
55 Pa. Code §107.4(c)(2)(v) and (vi)
If the Secretary decides that discrimination took place, report on what happened. The CAO or other provider must be given ten days to answer with:
A written response that corrective action has been taken or will be taken within 90 days; or
A request for a hearing to show why the provider should not be allowed to take part in the DHS program.
If the CAO or other provider requests a hearing, copies of the order for corrective action and all related documents must be sent to the Bureau of Equal Opportunity, which will review that case and take action. The bureau will let the CAO know of the final decision.
55 Pa. Code §107.4(c2)(vii)-(ix)
If there is no request for a hearing and the provider does not agree to follow the rules or does not follow the rules within 90 days, the CAO must tell the provider it can no longer take part in the program. DHS must stop paying the provider for work done for clients.
55 Pa. Code §107.4(d)(3)
Reviewed July 30, 2013