I-1-8-10.Division of Quality Service (DQS) Determines an Investigation is Unnecessary

Last Update: 4/12/13 (Transmittal I-1-64)

DQS will determine whether further investigation of a complaint alleging ALJ conduct is necessary after reviewing the complaint under the procedures described in HALLEX I-1-8-7. If DQS determines further investigation is unnecessary, then DQS will notify the administrative law judge (ALJ) and closeout the case.

A. Notification to the ALJ

DQS will send an email to the appropriate contact in the Office of Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR) Regional Office or National Hearing Center (NHC) Central Office informing them that no investigation is necessary. The Regional Office or NHC Central Office will then notify the ALJ pursuant to Social Security Administration's (SSA) contractual obligations and notify the ALJ's supervisor. See Social Security Ruling (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 notification will indicate that:

  • a complaint was filed,

  • a reference to the allegation(s) in the claimant's electronic record,

NOTE:

If the record is paper or the allegation(s) is not electronic, the ALJ will be provided a copy of the complaint.

  • the allegation(s) was not substantiated,

  • no further action will be taken and the complaint is closed, and

  • the complaint and outcome will be maintained pursuant to any agency systems of records. See HALLEX I-1-8-7.

NOTE:

The ALJ will also be given a Regional Office or NHC Central Office contact for additional information, if needed.

Regional Office or NHC Central Office staff will notify DQS in writing that the ALJ received notification of the complaint.

B. Closeout Letter

1. DQS Acknowledged the Complaint Under HALLEX I-1-8-7 A.

DQS will send a letter (“closeout letter”) only to complainant(s) who should receive an acknowledgement letter pursuant to HALLEX I-1-8-7 A.2.b. The closeout letter will indicate that DQS processed the complaint. The closeout letter will also explain that the Privacy Act prevents DQS from disclosing whether or not it took any action against the ALJ who is the subject of the complaint.

DQS will close out the case in the ALJ Public Alleged Misconduct Complaints System database. See HALLEX I-1-8-7.

2. A Regional Office or NHC Central Office Acknowledged the Complaint Under HALLEX I-1-8-7 B.

After the Regional Office or NHC Central Office receives notification from DQS that no investigation is necessary, it will send a closeout letter to the complainant(s) who should receive an acknowledgement letter pursuant to HALLEX I-1-8-7 A.2.b. The closeout letter will indicate that the SSA processed the complaint. The letter will also explain that the Privacy Act prevents disclosure as to whether any action was or was not taken against the ALJ who is the subject of the complaint.

The Regional Office or NHC Central Office will notify DQS that the closeout letter was sent. DQS will close out the case in the database. See HALLEX I-1-8-7.