July 20, 2017
It is hard to believe that a program meant to help disabled individuals would also discriminate against them, but unfortunately, it does happen. Here, the disability advocates at Disability Associates explain what to do if you believe you’ve been a victim of Social Security discrimination.
Legally Defining Discrimination
Legally, discrimination is defined as the act of denying rights, benefits, justice, equitable treatment, or access to facilities available to all others, to an individual or group of people because of their race, age, gender, sex, handicap or other defining characteristic. Discrimination can happen to anyone, and likewise, anyone can be a discriminator. While not every action that causes a negative outcome for an applicant can be attributed to discrimination, it is important to understand your rights and report actions you believe were discriminatory.
How to Report Discrimination
If you believe that the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) who conducted your hearing unfairly discriminated against you, the Social Security Administration strongly urges you to report what occurred, even if you aren’t sure you wish to file an appeal. The complaint must be received within 180 days of either the date of the action, or the date you were made aware of the discrimination. It is important to note that filing a complaint while your benefits application is still being reviewed will not impact your ability to receive Social Security benefits.
Your complaint should be in writing, and include your name, address, telephone number, Social Security number, and a detailed description of the discriminatory event that occurred. This description should include the ALJ’s name, their discriminatory words or actions, any witnesses to the event and the date and time of the event. If you are unable to write, your advocate or representation may write for you, or you may contact your local Social Security office via telephone, and they can write the complaint for you.
You may send your complaint letter to this address:
Office of Disability Adjudication and Review Division of Quality Service 5107 Leesburg Pike, Suites 1702/1703 Falls Church, VA 22041-3255
What the Social Security Office Will Do
An administrator not previously associated with your claim will review your letter or complaint, and investigate accordingly. Once the investigation is complete, they will notify you of the verdict. Several weeks may be necessary for the administrator time to complete the investigation thoroughly.
How Disability Associates Can Help
Everyone, regardless of race, religion, sex, age or other distinguishing factor, deserves a fair hearing when applying for Social Security Disability Benefits. At Disability Associates, we advocate for those who have been disabled, require benefits and especially those who feel they have been treated unfairly in the benefits application process. If you or a loved one has been discriminated against throughout the Social Security process, we want to fight for your justice. For more information, or to schedule a free consultation, contact us today!