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HHS Departmental Appeals Board Internship/Externship Program

The Departmental Appeals Board ("DAB") of the United States Department of Health and Human Services offers internships throughout the academic year to first-year (second semester), second year, and third-year law school students. In addition, the DAB has a robust summer internship program for law students that offer various learning opportunities and experiences beyond the great practical work skills its interns receive. Although the internship program is primarily geared towards law school students, the DAB has opportunities available for some undergraduate students who may be interested in attending law school.

The Chair of the DAB is a Senior Executive who manages the entire office, which consists of 67 employees. Besides the Immediate Office of the Chair, the DAB has four distinct and unique Divisions, which are:

Appellate Division

The Appellate Division provides staff support for the Board Members, who are career civil servants appointed by the Secretary to provide an impartial, independent review of disputes arising in a wide range of HHS programs. The Board provides de novo review (which may include an evidentiary hearing) of certain types of final decisions of HHS operating components, such as-

  1. determinations in discretionary, project grant programs, including disallowances, terminations and denials of refunding, cost allocation plan disapprovals, and rate determinations; and

  2. determinations in mandatory grant programs, including disallowances of state claims under titles I, IV-A (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families), IV-D (Child Support Enforcement), IV-E (Foster Care and Adoption Assistance), X, XIV, XVI, XIX (Medicaid), and XXI (State Children's Health Insurance Program) of the Social Security Act.

The Board also provides appellate review of certain types of Administrative Law Judge decisions. In most cases, the Board decision is the final administrative decision of HHS.

Alternative Dispute Resolution Division

The Alternative Dispute Resolution Division provides alternative dispute resolution ("ADR") services in appeals filed with the Board's other three Divisions. In addition, the Division supports the HHS Dispute Resolution Specialist (the DAB Chair) in carrying out her responsibilities to implement ADR and negotiated rulemaking at the Department. ADR in Board cases typically involves either mediation or ombuds services. Staff support to the HHS Dispute Resolution Specialist includes conflict management training to HHS employees, mediating workplace disputes, administering the Federal Sharing Neutrals program (which provides mediators to HHS and other participating federal agencies), providing policy advice and guidance, and participating in interagency ADR initiatives through the Federal Interagency ADR Steering Committee.

Civil Remedies Division

The Civil Remedies Division ("CRD") provides staff support for the Administrative Law Judges ("ALJs") assigned to the DAB. The ALJs are qualified under the Federal Administrative Procedure Act to conduct hearings on the record. Generally, the ALJ decision is an initial decision that may be appealed to the Board. If the ALJ decision is not appealed, it represents the final administrative decision.

The jurisdiction of the Division's ALJs includes appeals from civil monetary penalties ("CMPs") and other enforcement actions taken by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services ("CMS") against nursing home providers, clinical laboratories, home health care agencies and other health care providers. In addition, the judges decide cases regarding exclusion actions and civil monetary penalties imposed by the HHS Inspector General involving individual and other health care practitioners, as well as 'anti-patient dumping" cases. Medicare beneficiaries may also seek CRD ALJ review of Local Coverage Determinations promulgated by Medicare contractors (including fiscal intermediaries and carriers). Also within the Division's jurisdiction are certain CMP actions taken by the Inspector General for Social Security Administration. The division has a variety of other jurisdictions, including claims collection and certain Civil Rights and HIPAA cases. At this time, the majority of cases involve CMS sanctions against nursing homes. The second most significant caseload involves the HHS Inspector General exclusion cases.

CRD ALJs also provide hearings and issue initial agency decisions regarding CMPs proposed by CMS under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996. These ALJ decisions may be reviewed by the CMS Administrator or his or her delegate. In addition, CRD ALJs provide hearings in certain debt collection cases brought by the Social Security Administration ("SSA"), involving nonbargaining unit employees and debts, requiring an independent hearing officer.

Medicare Operations Division

The Medicare Operations Division provides staff support to the Administrative Appeals Judges and Appeals Officers on the Medicare Appeals Council. The Council provides the final administrative review of claims for entitlement to Medicare and individual claims for Medicare coverage and payment filed by beneficiaries or health care providers/suppliers.

SSA makes the initial determination on a claim for entitlement to Medicare. A contractor of CMS, including a Medicare Advantage organization, makes an initial determination on an individual claim for Medicare coverage and payment. On appeal, an ALJ assigned to the Office of Medicare Hearings and Appeals provides a hearing. If a party is dissatisfied with an ALJ decision or dismissal, it may request the Council's review. The Council may also undertake review of an ALJ decision on its own motion. Final Council decisions may be appealed to federal court if certain "amount in controversy" requirements are met.

DAB Internship Program Overview

Depending on the school semester, the DAB will typically offer four (4) to six (6) unpaid internships to law students. During the Fall and Spring semesters, the DAB will generally offer four unpaid internships to law students attending school within the Washington, D.C. area. Two interns will work for the Civil Remedies Division, and two interns will work in the Medicare Operations Division. The interns will work between 12 to 16 hours per week; however, the hours will be flexible to meet the interns' school schedule.

During the summer, the DAB plans to offer six (6) unpaid internships to law students throughout the United States. Two interns will work for the Civil Remedies Division, two interns will work in the Medicare Operations Division, one intern will work in the Appellate Division, and one intern will work for the Alternative Dispute Resolution Division. The intern will work in the Division to which he/she is assigned throughout the entire summer. DAB's summer internship program is more robust than its Fall and Spring internships, and interns are expected to work a forty (40) hour week.

Although all DAB internships are unpaid, we will work with the intern to help them receive credit if they desire. The DAB also has activities for its interns, such as brownbag lunches and other special events, to ensure that the intern benefits with an educational and enjoyable summer experience. In all semesters, the DAB will assign mentor or "work-buddy" to the intern to ensure that the intern gets the most of his/her experience.

To qualify for an internship at the DAB, we recommend that the applicant have good legal research and writing skills and a strong interest in Administrative Law. No prior health law experience is necessary; however, an interest in health law is definitely a plus. For the intern selected for the Alternative Dispute Resolution Division, prior dispute resolution or mediation skills are necessary. To apply, please submit a cover letter and resume. Applications will be received on a rolling basis, and applicants should apply using the following general deadlines: (1) Fall, the prior April 20; (2) Spring, the prior October 31; and (3) for Summer, the prior March 1. The DAB will conduct interviews with all selected applicants.

For more information on the internship/externship opportunities at the Departmental Appeals Board, or to apply for an internship/externship, please contact Theodore Kim, Special Assistant to the Chair, at or 202-565-0200.

DAB Interns and Mentors at Summer 2008 Trip to Supreme Court.
Picture: DAB Interns and Mentors at Summer 2008 Trip to Supreme Court.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Who is Eligible for an Internship/Externship at the DAB?

Generally, first-year (second semester), second- and third-year law students are eligible for volunteer legal internships. Law school graduates are not eligible for summer volunteer positions. First-year (first semester) law students can apply after December 1 for internships the following summer. The DAB follows the National Association for Law Placement ("NALP") guidelines, which prohibits employer contact with first-year (first semester) law students regarding summer employment prior to that date.

2. What Types of Internships Are Available at the DAB for Law Students?

The DAB offers part-time (no more than 20 hours per week for full-time law students during the Fall and Spring semesters and 40 hours per week during the Summer), work-study (for credit or part of a law school's work-study program), and volunteer internships for law students who have not yet received their law degree. Internships are available during both the academic year and during the summer.

3. What are the advantages of a volunteer internship?

Former interns of the DAB's program have universally enjoyed their experience. During exit interviews with past interns, the DAB have received the following comments:

  • "I liked the variety and pace of assignments."
  • "It was great attending hearings and prehearing conferences."
  • "I was given the opportunity to draft decisions."
  • "I was immersed in the work right away, starting off with cite-checks and cold reads [of cases]. This was beneficial in helping learn the regulations and statutes."
  • "I liked working with the judges one-on-one and hearing how they made their decisions."
  • "I was given much responsibility and treated with respect."
  • "I enjoyed meeting and interacting with the other interns."
  • "The Supervisors try their best to give me a great learning experience."
  • "My mentor/buddy was great and helped make this the best internship ever."

4. How Do I Apply?

The DAB accepts applications year round. It participates, in numerous job fairs at area schools and has postings at these schools. In addition, the DAB has participated in the Equal Justice Works Career Fair and hopes to continue its participation in the future.

To apply, please send cover letter and resume by snail mail or e-mail to:

Ted Kim
Special Assistant
United States Department of Health and Human Services
Departmental Appeals Board
330 Independence Ave., S.W.
Cohen Building - Room G-644, MS 6127
Washington, D.C. 20201
Direct: 202-565-0200
Fax: 202-565-0224

5. What are Typical Assignments for Interns?

The assignments given to interns vary between Divisions. In the three adjudicatory divisions, the intern will work with one or more judges and assignments can include legal research and writing, assistance with trial preparation, and investigatory follow-up on cases. Each of these Divisions strives to provide the intern with at least one writing sample by the end of the internship. An intern working in the Alternative Dispute Resolution Division will have a different experience from the above and will immediately put to use any prior dispute resolution and mediation skills he or she may have. Regardless of which division in which you may work, all interns can expect to work closely with a mentor/buddy and perform substantive assignments, with plenty of mentoring.

6. Is Any Financial Compensation Available?

No, the DAB is unable to provide any financial compensation to its interns. It will provide its interns with whatever information they may need to assist in obtaining scholarships, grants, or course-credit. Some law schools offer funding programs to students who wish to spend the summer or semester working for the government or public interest organizations. You may wish to check with your law school to determine whether such funding is available. In the summer, transit subsidy may be available for the interns.

7. What Credentials Does the DAB Use to Select Interns?

The DAB seeks students with an interest in Health Law and/or Administrative Law. Although prior experience in Health Law is a definite plus, it is not necessary for interns at the DAB. Academic achievement, demonstrated research and writing skills (through participation on Journal), judgment, maturity, extracurricular activities, and other factors are also considered in evaluating potential candidates.

8. Does the DAB Accept Non-Citizens?

Yes, but under limited circumstances.

9. Is there a Minimum Time Period Required for an Internship?

Generally, the DAB would like its summer interns to commit ten weeks. The DAB, however, is flexible with its summer program and will try to accommodate its interns' schedules on a case-by-case basis. DAB will consider the requests of any interns interested in "splitting" the summer on a case-by-case basis.

During the summer, interns are expected to work a 40 hour week. While classes are in session during the Fall and Spring semesters, interns can work up to 20 hours a week while attending classes. Interns can work longer hours during periods when classes are not in session or when participating in a tailored work-study internship.

Last revised: January 7, 2009


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