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Treated unfairly by Administrative Law Judge?

Disabled individuals who have a hearing on their Social Security disability claim before an administrative law judge can find themselves concerned about the outcome, and rightly so. After all, their financial well-being may be on the line. Sometimes, these claim are granted. Other times, though, they are denied for a variety of reasons. Even if a claimant disputes the outcome, many of these reasons are valid and can be challenged on appeal. In some cases, though, a disabled individual may believe that he or she was treated unfairly by their administrative law judge. When this happens, it might be time to notify the Social Security Administration.

In order to notify the SSA of unfair treatment by an administrative law judge, an individual must file a complaint. This complaint must be filed within 180 days of the unfair treatment or 180 after the claimant learns of the unfair treatment. The claim needs to lay out a claimant's basic information as well as why he or she believes the treatment was unfair. This part of the complaint must be specific, identifying specific statements and/or actions that were unfair. A claimant must also identify anyone who witnessed the unfair treatment.

It is important to note that filing a complaint is not an alternative to filing an appeal. In fact, an appeal will also handle any claims of unfair treatment by an administrative law judge. Yet, by filing a complaint, a claimant may be able to have the SSA take action to remedy the unfair treatment, thereby protecting future claimants. Additionally, one's filing of a complaint may bolster one's claim on appeal that he or she was treated unfairly.

The SSD claims process can bring on a whole host of complications. Yet, the process is supposed to be fair and unbiased. Those who believe their SSD benefits were unfairly denied should consider whether filing a complaint and an appeal is in their best interests. If so, they need to proceed with a claim that is as fully developed as possible.

Source: Social Security Administration, "How to File an Unfair Treatment Compliant Concerning an Administrative Law Judge," accessed on Jan. 8, 2017

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