A hearing officer has an important job in a dispute resolution process. Typically, a person in this field has the job of presiding over administrative cases for government agencies; he gives each side a chance to state his case and present reasons why he should win. Then, a hearing officer usually makes a decision in the case. A person with this title acts much like a judge. The main difference, however, is that the hearing officer is usually restricted to administrative matters, and the hearings he conducts are usually less formal than typical court trials.
In many jurisdictions, hearing officers hear cases involving government agency disputes. For example, a person may apply for disability benefits and be denied. If he feels that he has been unfairly denied, he may ask for an administrative hearing. Such a hearing gives him the opportunity to present information or arguments in order to show that he is entitled to the benefits for which he applied and should not have been denied. A representative of the government agency may also present his side and attempt to show that the denial was fair.
In most cases, a hearing officer’s job is not only to provide a decision in an administrative case, but also to provide a sense of fairness. He allows each side in a case to be heard. This way, neither party has to feel victimized by unfair or arbitrary rules and regulations. He may also listen to witness testimony and review evidence provided by each party. This may prevent a party from feeling that a decision was too hastily made by a person who did not have all of the facts at hand.
While the main part of a hearing officer’s job is often listening to both parties in a dispute and deciding in favor of one of the parties, there is often more to this job. In many cases, a person with this title also helps the parties to understand the administrative process. For example, he may answer questions asked by either party in a case. In some cases, he may even answer questions asked by witnesses.
Often, a hearing officer provides his decision several days after a hearing. In some jurisdictions, for example, a hearing officer’s decision is sent by mail within 10 days of an administrative hearing. Interestingly, most of these hearings are conducted in person, but some are conducted by mail as well.
The requirements a person must meet to become a hearing officer vary from place to place. At minimum, a person will usually need a bachelor’s degree to qualify for this job. Sometimes law degrees are required for this position as well.