How to File an Unfair Treatment Complaint
Against a Social Security Administrative Judge–
In a perfect world, all Social Security Disability decisions would be fast and fair – and SSDI claims would never be wrongfully denied. And – in an ideal scenario – Judges would always be fair, unbiased and never discriminate. But Judges are human, and unfortunately some Social Security Administrative Judges may occasionally engage in prejudicial behavior.
In almost forty years of practicing law in Long Beach and the greater Los Angeles area, our Social Security Disability lawyers can vouch for the fact that most Administrative Judges are fair and unbiased. But, once in awhile, a rare “bad apple” may return a denial that simply is not fair – and appears to be the result of some type of prejudice or bias.
Complaints Against a Social Security Administrative Judge
Fortunately, the Social Security Administration (SSA) has a complaint process for situations where a Social Security Disability claimant believes the Judge did not treat them fairly and equally.
If you believe you were treated differently because of your race, sex, age, disability, the amount of money you have, or for any other reason, you can file a complaint.
The complaint must be received by the SSA within 180 days of either the date of the action, or the date you became aware of the unfair or discriminatory conduct. If the unfair action you are alleging took place more than 180 days ago, you must explain why you waited to file the complaint. In some cases the SSA will waive the 180-day requirement, if you can demonstrate “good cause” for filing late.
You may file your complaint by completing Form SSA-437-BK, or you can write a letter.
Your Social Security Unfair Treatment Complaint should include:
- Your name, address, and telephone number;
- Your Social Security number and Case # (if applicable);
- Name of the Judge or other SSA staff who treated you unfairly;
- The date you were unfairly treated;
- Names of whomever else witnessed the unfair treatment;
- What action you think Social Security should take to resolve your complaint;
- If you filed a complaint about this matter with any other agency or organization.
Most importantly, the complaint should include the exact details of how you believe you were unfairly treated by the Social Security Administrative Law Judge – including specific actions or words you believe to be unfair.
Social Security Unfair Treatment Complaint Does NOT Replace Appeal!
Keep in mind that simply believing the Judge’s decision was “wrong” is not enough to file a complaint for unfair treatment or misconduct by the Judge. You must be able to demonstrate that the Judge treated you differently or unfairly because of your race, sex, age, disability, income, or other reason.
Remember filing an Unfair Treatment Complaint is different from – and does NOT replace – appealing a decision. If you simply don’t agree with the decision in your case, you have 60 days from the date you receive the decision letter to request an appeal. The decision letter, and your lawyer, will both explain how to file an appeal.
How to File a Social Security Unfair Treatment Complaint
The Unfair Complaint Form (SSA-437-BK) is available at www.socialsecurity.gov/online/ssa-437.pdf.
You can get help filing your Unfair Treatment Complaint at any Social Security office, or it can be sent in writing to:
Social Security Administration Program
Discrimination Complaint Adjudication Office
6401 Security Boulevard
Baltimore, MD 21235
You will be advised by the SSA when they have received your complaint. An SSA employee who was not previously involved in handling your SSDI claim will review the information, and you will be advised when the matter is closed or settles.
If you file a separate Appeal of the decision on your claim (recommended), the Appeals Council will address your complaint when responding to your appeal.
Remember an Unfair Treatment Complaint is not the same as – nor does it take the place of – an Appeal on the “merits” or “facts” of your case. For this reason it is always wise to consult with an experienced Social Security disability lawyer if your SSDI case has been denied for any reason – to make sure that you pursue all available remedies.