TN 3 (12-98)

GN 00903.400 Complaints of discrimination against ssa and/or ssa employees by members of the public

A. Introduction - discrimination complaints against ssa and/or ssa employees

The Commissioner of Social Security has taken steps to ensure that no person is discriminated against on the basis of disability, race, color, national origin, sex, age, religion or retaliation (for filing a previous complaint) in any program or activity conducted by SSA. The Commissioner has delegated to SSA's Office of the General Counsel (OGC) the authority to accept, investigate and resolve such complaints.

B. Discrimination policies

It is not discrimination for SSA to apply the provisions of the Social Security Act, the regulations, Social Security Rulings (SSRs), and similar materials (like the POMS) in the conduct of benefit determinations, applications and other activities conducted by the Agency. Furthermore, filing a complaint is not a means to:

  • appeal an unfavorable decision on a claim for benefits.

  • obtain an investigation of alleged discrimination by an SSA employee that occurred while the employee was off-duty and was unrelated to the employee's duties. EXAMPLE: Employee is alleged to have uttered an offensive remark in the course of a dispute over a parking spot at a shopping mall.

  • request an SSA employee to withdraw from handling a specific claim or matter.

C. Process for alleged discrimination by ssa or ssa employee

SSA personnel may assist a person in filing a written complaint of discrimination. If a person makes an oral complaint (either in person or by phone), SSA personnel shall reduce the complaint to writing. In the event the complainant is alleging discrimination by an employee, that particular employee should not be responsible for reducing the complaint to writing unless there is no other employee available to handle the matter. In the event the complaint is made in connection with the conduct of an administrative law judge (ALJ), you must also follow the procedures set forth at GN 03103.300 - Complaints of Alleged Bias or Misconduct by ALJs.

A written complaint may be made by letter or by using a Discrimination Complaint Form (SSA-437). If there is difficulty generating the SSA-437 from the POMS on PolicyNet, a complainant may also obtain a Discrimination Complaint Form by contacting the appropriate Regional Chief Counsel's (RCC) office or from the Office of the General Counsel, Social Security Administration, 6401 Security Boulevard, Room 617, Altmeyer Building, Baltimore, Maryland 21235-6401.

For a letter or the SSA-437 to be a complete complaint, it must be signed (“signed” includes a person's mark, such as an “X” ) by the complainant or by someone authorized to do so on his or her behalf and must contain at least the following information:

  • the complainant's name

  • social security number

  • complete address

  • and a description of the alleged discriminatory act in sufficient detail to inform SSA of the nature and date of the alleged discriminatory act.

  • If a complaint is being filed on someone else's behalf, the person filing the complaint must: describe or identify by name, social security number and address, if possible, the alleged victim(s) of discrimination.

D. When must a complaint be filed

A complete complaint must be filed no later than 180 days from the date of the last act of alleged discrimination. Although the time limit for filing a complaint may be extended by the General Counsel for good cause, members of the public must be advised that they should not delay in filing a complaint.

E. Where must a complaint be filed

Complaints received in any component other than OGC must be sent immediately to the General Counsel, Office of the General Counsel, Social Security Administration, 6401 Security Boulevard, Room 617 Altmeyer Building, Baltimore, MD 21235-6401. “Immediately” means no later than the next business day.

F. Exhibit

Instruction for filing SSA-437-BK

To view the form, go to SSA-437–BK

Paperwork reduction act

The Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 requires us to notify you that this information collection is in accordance with the clearance requirements of Section 3507 of the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995. We may not conduct or sponsor, and you are not required to respond to, a collection of information unless it displays a valid OMB control number.

Time it takes to complete this form

We estimate that it will take you about one hour to provide the information. This includes the time it takes to read the instructions, gather the facts and complete the forms.

Uses of personal information for investigations

The information collection is authorized by 5 U.S.C. §301; 29 U.S.C. §791 et. seq.; 42 U.S.C.§§902(a)