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What if I believe the judge was unfair in my disability case?

For residents of North Carolina who are seeking Social Security disability benefits, one of the last things they will think might damage their application is if the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) treats them unfairly. However, if there is a belief that there has been different treatment because of age, race, sex, disability, financial standing, or any other reason, the Social Security Administration should be told. Doing so could affect the case's outcome.

The SSA will examine a case in which there are allegations of unfairness or discrimination. A complaint should be filed even if the applicant does not intend to appeal the case. The complaint must be received by the SSA within 180 days of the date the action occurred or when the applicant found out about the behavior. This can be done even while the decision on the application is in progress.

All personal information should be provided with the complaint, such as the claimant's name and Social Security number. Also, the applicant should say who it was that treated him or her unfairly, when this treatment occurred, the behaviors or words that were deemed unfair, and who else heard or witnessed the unfair treatment. If the complaint is being made for someone else, the relationship should be described in detail. The inappropriate or unfair acts on the part of the ALJ should be described.

A decision that went against the claimant does not constitute unfairness or impropriety by itself. There is a difference between filing a complaint about unfair treatment and an appeal. An ALJ is not immune to making mistakes or engaging in behaviors that are unfair, discriminatory or inappropriate. For a person who is seeking SSD benefits, having help in filing a complaint to the SSA over the way the ALJ acted is vital when such treatment has occurred. Contacting a legal professional experienced in Social Security disability is imperative in such a case.

Source: Social Security Administration, "How to File an Unfair Treatment Complaint Concerning an Administrative Law Judge," accessed on Sept. 3, 2017

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