The Hearing Officer Level

About the Hearing

This hearing is informal, and the Hearing Officer is a trained layperson; not a judge or an attorney. There is no record kept of testimony. You are not required to hire a lawyer, but you may if you wish. Many claimants represent themselves at the Hearing Officer level. You have 10-15 minutes to present your case. Hearings last approximately 20-30 minutes.

Attend the hearing:

You may appear in person or by telephone. If you choose to appear by phone, make sure to call the Hearing Office at least a day before the hearing to give them your proper phone number.

Present your evidence:

  1. Documents;
  2. Witness testimony;
  3. Your own testimony.

Because the hearing before the Hearing Officer is informal, you may use simple signed and dated letters from your witnesses. If you plan to appear at the first hearing by phone, mail or fax your evidentiary documents to the Hearing Office in advance of your hearing.

  • Tell the parts of your story that explain why you appealed the given determination and what benefit you want.
  • When you are asked questions, do not guess or assume facts. Only state facts you know.
  • Ask questions of the other side’s witnesses to add to your own case. Get copies of all evidence mentioned by your employer or the insurer.
  • Do not argue with the Hearing Officer or the other side. Just present your version of the facts.
  • Present your evidence and state your case as calmly as you can.
  • This is your time to try to convince the Hearing Officer you are entitled to the benefits you seek.
  • No one knows the facts as well as you do, so describe them. Be clear, concise and courteous. You have 10–15 minutes to present your case.
  • You will receive the Hearing Officer's decision in the mail about 10 days after the hearing.  

If you get an answer from the informal hearing that you disagree with, it is not binding if you appeal it within 30 days to the Appeals Officer level. The Appeals Officer is not bound by the decision of the Hearing Officer, and at the second level hearing you may be eligible to have an NAIW attorney appointed to represent you for free.

The Hearings Division:

The Hearings Division is a state agency within the Department of Administration where contested workers' compensation appeals are first heard. The Hearing Officer level is the first appeal level and is an informal hearing in which the injured worker explains why they disagree with a determination made by the workers' compensation insurer. If the decision or order that you disagree with is that of an MCO, the DIR, or an Arbitrator agreed to through collective bargaining, you may skip the Hearing Officer level and appeal directly to the Appeals Officer level.

The Appeals Officer level is the second appeal level and is a more formal process where attorneys for the parties present evidence. The Appeals Officer is not bound by the decision of the Hearing Officer.