What to Do If You Were Treated Unfairly by a Social Security Disability Appeals ALJ

Unfair Road SignYou don’t have to be the victim of unfair treatment by a Social Security Disability Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). There are actions that you can take to protect your rights and get the benefits you’ve earned.

Identifying Unfair Treatment by an ALJ

You appealed your Social Security disability denial with the hope of being treated fairly and getting the disability benefits you earned. Unfortunately, that’s not what happened. However, this time, the ALJ didn’t just deny your appeal; the ALJ also acted unfairly.

A disability denial isn’t always unfair, but it could be unfair if the ALJ treated you differently or discriminated against you based on:

  • Race
  • Sex or gender identity
  • Sexual orientation
  • Age (as long as your age qualifies for Social Security disability)
  • Disability
  • Your financial situation
  • Religion
  • National origin
  • Language proficiency
  • Another reason prohibited by law.

Additionally, an ALJ may have treated you unfairly if the ALJ tried to intimidate, threaten, harass or coerce you or if the ALJ retaliated against you for a previous discrimination complaint.

Why to Consider an Unfair Treatment Complaint

An ALJ’s unfair treatment may have caused your Social Security disability appeal denial. You will need to continue with the Social Security disability appeals process or file a new application to change the outcome of your disability decision. Our experienced disability lawyers can talk you through the pros and cons of your options.

Our attorneys can also talk you through the pros and cons of pursuing an unfair treatment complaint against the ALJ. An unfair treatment complaint is a different process that will not end in any determination about your disability benefits. Instead, the complaint may have a significant impact on the ALJ judge who allegedly mistreated you and on encouraging fair treatment by all Social Security disability ALJs.

How to File an Unfair Treatment Complaint

You usually have 180 days to file an unfair treatment complaint. The 180 days begin running on the date the unfair action took place or on the date you become aware of the unfair action, whichever is later. You, your attorney, or your personal representative may file the complaint.

The complaint should be made in writing. You may complete SSA Form 437-BK, or you may file your own written complaint. Either way, your complaint must include:

  • Your name, address, and contact information
  • Your Social Security number
  • The name of the ALJ who treated you unfairly
  • A detailed description of why you think you were treated unfairly
  • When and where the alleged discrimination took place
  • The names of anyone who witnessed the unfair treatment
  • Whether you reported the unfair treatment to anyone and if so to whom the report was made

An ALJ’s denial of your appeal is not conclusive evidence of unfair treatment.

Your complaint may be filed in a local Social Security office or with the Social Security Administration Program Discrimination Complaint Adjudication Office in Baltimore, Maryland.

The Social Security Administration will let you know when your complaint is received and the outcome of your complaint.

What to Discuss With a New England Social Security Disability Lawyer

Before you file an unfair treatment complaint, you may consult with a Social Security disability lawyer. Our experienced Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island Social Security disability attorneys can also discuss your appeal options with you.

Even if the Social Security Administration finds that an ALJ treated you unfairly, it will have no impact on your disability benefits. You must still pursue another step in the appeals process or file a new application to get the benefits you deserve.

Our disability appeals law firm wants to make sure you are treated fairly and that you get the benefits you deserve even if you’ve already been treated unfairly. However, you only have 60 days to file an appeal in most cases. Therefore, we encourage you to contact our Boston area Social Security disability appeal lawyers today for a free, no-obligation consultation about your rights and legal options.

 

John L. Keefe
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Founding Attorney, Massachusetts Social Security Disability Lawyer
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