Last Update: 4/12/13 (Transmittal I-1-64)
A. Complaints Filed by the Public, Government Entities, Social Security Administration Personnel
1. Who May File a Complaint
The following public individuals may file a complaint with the Division of Quality Service (DQS):
another party to the hearing,
someone authorized to act on the claimant's or other party's behalf including but not limited to the claimant's representative, or
an individual who was present at the claimant's hearing.
Social Security Administration (SSA) personnel, including those in SSA's Office of the Inspector General, and government entities, such as Members of Congress, and the Federal courts also may file a complaint with DQS. Individuals and entities who may file a complaint and do file a complaint are referred to as “complainants.”
If DQS receives a complaint from an individual or entity who is not a complainant as identified above, DQS will notify that individual or entity that it will not review the complaint.
2. What the Complaint Should Contain
DQS will consider a written complaint that sufficiently details the relevant facts.
All complaints should include:
specific allegations about the type of ALJ conduct that DQS has the authority to investigate,
descriptions of when and where the alleged misconduct occurred, and
witnesses to the alleged misconduct, if any.
Complaints submitted by mail or fax should also include:
the complainant's name, telephone number, and the city and state that the complainant lives in.
If the complainant is not the claimant, the claimant's name, the city and state the claimant lives in, and the complainant's relationship to the claimant.
Complaints submitted by email should also include:
only the personal information necessary to explain the complaint. Emails should not include any social security numbers, home addresses, other personally identifiable information, or attachments.
Complainants submitting a complaint by email should be mindful that emailing a complaint is not a secure means of communication. It is possible that information included in an email can be intercepted and read by others outside of SSA and used by those third parties for purposes not in line with its intended use. Accordingly, email complaints should limit personal information to only what is necessary to explain a complaint.
If the complaint does not sufficiently detail the relevant facts, DQS will send a letter informing the complainant about the insufficiency. The letter will inform the complainant that they have 30 calendar days to supply the necessary information.
If DQS receives the necessary information within 30 calendar days, the complaint will be acknowledged and reviewed using the procedures described in HALLEX I-1-8-7. If DQS does not receive the letter containing the necessary information from the complainant within 30 calendar days, but the postmark on the letter is within 30 calendar days, DQS will accept the complaint for processing.
If DQS does not receive the necessary information within 30 calendar days or the response is not postmarked within 30 days of the requested date, DQS will close out the matter without any review or notification to the complainant.
To account for mailing time, DQS assumes the complainant received the letter 5 days after the date shown on this notice unless the complainant shows they did not receive it within the 5-day period.
3. When to File the Complaint
The complaint must be filed with DQS or postmarked within 180 calendar days of the date of the alleged conduct, or the date the complainant became aware of such conduct. If using the latter, the complainant should indicate when they became aware of the conduct and the circumstances surrounding the discovery of that conduct.
If the complaint is untimely, DQS will notify the complainant that the complaint is untimely and that it will not process the complaint.
4. Where to File the Complaint
Although a complaint may be filed with any SSA office, complaints should be filed directly with DQS to avoid delays in processing. The complainant should mail the complaint and any supporting documentation to DQS at:Social Security Administration
Office of Hearings Operations
Office of Executive Operations and Strategic Management
Attn: Division of Quality Service
6401 Security Boulevard
Baltimore, MD 21235
Complaints may be faxed to the Division of Quality Service at (833) 769-0252.
In the unusual circumstance that a complaint cannot be directly filed with DQS, a complainant may file it with the SSA Teleservice Center (by calling 1-800-772-1213), or any other SSA office. SSA employees receiving a complaint should fill out an SSA-5002, Report of Contact (ROC) summarizing the complaint and forward it to DQS for acknowledgement and review. This ROC will serve as the writing requirement under HALLEX I-1-8-4 A.2. However, if the complaint is filed with an Office of Hearings Operations Regional Office or the National Hearing Center Central Office, those offices will acknowledge the complaint under the instructions in HALLEX I-1-8-7, and then forward it to DQS for review.
5. Collection and Use of Personal Information
Sections 205 and 1631(d)(1) of the Social Security Act, as amended, allow the agency to collect this information. Furnishing the information is voluntary. However, failing to provide all or part of the information may prevent DQS from processing the complaint. DQS will use the information to process the complaint. SSA may also share the information for the following purposes, called routine uses:
To a congressional office in response to an inquiry from that office made at the request of the subject of the record or a third party on that person's behalf; and
To the Federal Labor Relations Authority, the General Counsel, the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, the Federal Service Impasses Panel, or an arbitrator when they request information in connection with investigations of allegations of unfair practices or of other matters before an arbitrator or the Federal Service Impasses Panel.
In addition, SSA may share this information in accordance with the Privacy Act and other Federal laws. For example, where authorized, SSA may use and disclose this information in computer matching programs, in which SSA's records are compared with other records to establish or verify a person's eligibility for Federal benefit programs and for repayment of incorrect or delinquent debts under these programs.
A list of additional routine uses is available in our Privacy Act System of Records Notice (SORN) 60-0356, entitled Administrative Law Judge/Public Alleged Misconduct Complaints (ALJ/PAMC). Additional information, and a full listing of all our SORNs, are available at www.ssa.gov/privacy.
B. Appeals Council (AC) Referrals
Pursuant to (SSR) 13-1p: Titles II and XVI: Agency Processes for Addressing Allegations of Unfairness, Prejudice, Partiality Bias, Misconduct, or Discrimination by Administrative Law Judges (ALJs), the Appeals Council (AC) will refer certain allegations of ALJ misconduct to DQS. The AC will follow the procedures for referral to DQS set forth in HALLEX I-3-2-25. DQS will accept referrals from the AC regarding:
An ALJ's egregious conduct identified by an Administrative Appeals Judge (AAJ), as explained in HALLEX I-3-2-25 C., even if the file contains no written allegation.
Allegations that fall outside of the AC's adjudicative authority, such as an allegation that the ALJ violated personnel regulations or policies.
Allegations that an ALJ shows general bias or a pattern of bias or misconduct against a group or particular category of claimants. For example, in association with a request for review, the claimant may allege, “The ALJ is biased against claimants who receive workers compensation benefits or unemployment benefits,” or “The ALJ shows prejudice toward women.”