Social Security For Dummies
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In the course of a year, the Social Security Administration (SSA) has tens of millions of direct contacts with the public, in field offices and over the phone. These contacts range from simple queries for information to emotionally charged concerns about benefits that can have a huge impact on a person’s monthly income. So, it isn’t surprising that people sometimes aren’t satisfied with the process or outcome.

You have options for registering your complaint, and they vary depending on how serious your complaint is.

You also can fill out a comment card to rate your experience at your local SSA office. This card, which should be available at your local SSA office, isn’t an official complaint form. It’s more like the little cards you may see at restaurants, asking what you thought of the service. You can even use this card to say something nice if you’re so inclined.

Contacting the right offices

If you have a more serious grievance with the SSA, you need more than a comment card or online feedback form. Here are your options:
  • Contact your local SSA office in person or in writing. You can get the address of your local SSA office by plugging in your zip code at the Office Locator link or by calling 800‐772‐1213 (TTY 800‐325‐0778).

  • Write to the national office of the SSA. You can write a letter to the following address, detailing your complaint:

    Social Security Administration

    Office of Public Inquiries

    1100 West High Rise

    6401 Security Blvd.

    Baltimore, MD 21235

  • Contact your elected representatives in Congress. You can contact your congressperson here. Check here if you need to contact your senators.

For discrimination issues and unfair treatment

If your complaint specifically has to do with discrimination or unfair treatment by an administrative law judge, the SSA has specific forms you can fill out. Here’s the information you need:
  • Complaints of discrimination: If you feel you were unfairly treated on the basis of your race, color, national origin, lack of proficiency in English, religion, gender, sexual orientation, age, or disability, you may file a formal complaint with the SSA. Such complaints should be registered within 180 days of the action you’re complaining about.

    Mail the signed, dated discrimination complaint form, along with your written consent to let the SSA reveal your name in the course of its investigation, to the following address:

    Social Security Administration
    Civil Rights Complaint Adjudication Office
    P.O. Box 17788
    Baltimore, MD 21235‐7788
  • Complaints of unfair treatment by administrative law judges: If you’re fighting the SSA over benefit decisions, the hearing before an administrative law judge is a critical moment in your appeal. The appeals system depends on such hearings being fair, and the SSA provides guidelines on how to complain if you feel that you were treated unjustly. You may express yourself verbally, but you’re better off writing down the facts and mailing them to the SSA.

    Your complaint should include

    • All your basic contact information

    • Your Social Security number

    • The name of the administrative law judge you’re complaining about

    • When the incident occurred

    • Names and contact information of any witnesses

    Your complaint should state your concerns as precisely as possible and what you considered to be unfair. Make clear the actions and words that you object to.

    The SSA provides some background on complaining about an administrative law judge at the SSA website. Send your written complaint to the following address:

    Office of Disability Adjudication and Review
    Division of Quality Service
    5107 Leesburg Pike, Suites 1702/1703
    Falls Church, VA 22041‐3255

    Don’t confuse a complaint of unfair treatment by an administrative law judge with a step in your appeal. If you want to pursue your appeal after an unfavorable finding from an administrative law judge, your next step is to request a review by the Appeals Council.

Copyright © 2015 AARP

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