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What if an ALJ has treated one unfairly at an SSDI hearing?

We have previously touched on the process of reconsideration and appeal that an applicant for Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income benefits can go through if the Social Security Administration denies his or her application. We have also mentioned the fact that those who hear such appeals, Administrative Law Judges, are human beings. As such, they are susceptible to all the shortcomings of humanity, such as bias, fear and just plain poor judgement.

While most ALJs will do everything possible to hear cases and make decisions in as unbiased a manner as possible, every once in a while, applicants may run across one who appears to be acting in a way that makes the applicant think that his or her case may not have received a fair hearing. Whether it is something the ALJ says, or the way in which he or she accepts or rejects certain evidence about a medical condition or inability to work, there are instances in which the neutrality of the decision maker in a case can come into question. So, what can an applicant do in such a situation?

According to a publication by the SSA, there is a procedure for filing a complaint about an unfair SSDI hearing. Such a compliant must be filed within 180 days of the point at which the alleged unfair activity is realized by the complainant, and it will have to be in writing, though the complainant may explain the complaint to an SSA worker and have him or her write it down. The complainant needs to include basic information, such as the complainant’s name, address, telephone and social security numbers, the individual who perpetrated the unfair treatment and time that it took place, the words or actions that indicated the unfair treatment and the identities of any witnesses to the unfairness. The complaint can be made by either the applicant or the applicant’s representative.

It is important to understand that making this kind of complaint is not the same as appealing the ALJ’s decision to a higher authority. The timing and factual requirements for an appeal are different. Anyone with questions about appealing an ALJ’s decision he or she feels was incorrect may want to consider contacting an experienced Ohio disability attorney.

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