When Oklahoma residents are seeking Social Security disability benefits, the fate of the case is often in the hands of the Administrative Law Judge. The ALJs are people too and sometimes they make mistakes. Applicants have the right to file an appeal. However, it is also important to understand what recourse there is if it is believed that the ALJ treated an applicant unfairly. There are steps to take if this is the case and it could help to get SSD benefits.
The Social Security Administration should be informed if there is a belief that the ALJ treated the applicant in an unfair manner. The complaint must be received within 180 days of the date the action took place or the date the applicant learned of the conduct. The request to examine a complaint about unfair treatment can take place even during the claims process and before the decision has been made. To file a complaint, it can be done in writing or the SSA can be called and they will write it down. All personal information must be provided, who it was that behaved in an unfair manner, how the person thinks he or she was treated unfairly, the words or actions that are believed to have been unfair, when it happened, if there are witnesses, and if the complaint is being made for another person.
The simple act of denying a claim does not imply unfair treatment. A complaint of this kind is different from appealing the decision. There can also be a complaint if the claimant thinks that an employee of the SSA was intimidating, threatening, harassing, committed coercion or retaliation for a prior complaint. This too must be filed within 180 days. If the 180 days is past, the claimant must explain why there was a delay and the requirement could be waived. The same information about the incident as listed above must be provided.
It is possible that the ALJ did act unfairly during the case and this could be the basis for a complaint to help the claimant get benefits. A legal professional will understand how to address this type of situation and assist a client with informing the SSA that an ALJ or employee behaved inappropriately with a person seeking Social Security disability benefits.
Source: ssa.gov, “How to File an Unfair Treatment Complaint Concerning an Administrative Law Judge,” accessed on Nov. 21, 2017