Other Potential Options

 You can:

  • File an Individual Right of Action Appeal with the MSPB.  An individual can file an Individual Right of Action with the MSPB if he or she has exhausted administrative remedies before OSC and makes nonfrivolous allegations that: (1) he or she engaged in whistleblowing activity by making a protected disclosure; and (2) the disclosure was a contributing factor in the agency’s decision to take or fail to take a personnel action;  More Information
  • Contact SSA’s OCREO if you believe an incident or action by management may be discriminatory;  More Information  
  • Make a complaint to the SSA OIG if you believe there is fraud, waste, or abuse involved. 
  • You can contact the OIG, especially if the protected disclosure was originally made to the OIG.  However, the OIG is not required to review your claim.  Further, unlike the Office of Special Counsel, the OIG does not have any corrective action authority.  If the OIG reviews your claim of retaliation, and if the OIG finds merit to the claim, the OIG can only report its findings to SSA officials.
  • Reporting a claim of retaliation to the OIG, as opposed to the OSC, will not create an opportunity to bring an ‘individual right of action” to the MSPB.  
  • If you believe there has been fraud, waste or abuse in the programs or operations of SSA you may contact SSA OIG.  Employee grievance complaints are generally not in the purview of SSA OIG unless there is criminal activity involved. 
  • Reporting is easy, safe, and secure.  You can reach us by Internet, phone, mail, or facsimile.
  • Internet: Fraud Reporting Form
  • U.S. Mail: Social Security Fraud Hotline
    P.O. Box 17785
    Baltimore, Maryland 21235
  • FAX: 410-597-0118
  • Telephone: 1-800-269-0271 from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time
  • TTY: 1-866-501-2101 for the deaf or hard of hearing. 

Note:  Regardless of the option used to assert a claim of retaliation, you must be able to demonstrate a “nexus” between SSA’s alleged retaliation and the “protected disclosure.”

- For example, if a supervisor gives you an unfavorable performances evaluation without any knowledge whatsoever that you made a “protected disclosure” several weeks earlier, there would be no nexus and no retaliation.

- An employee may demonstrate that a disclosure was a contributing factor in a personnel action through circumstantial evidence, such as the “knowledge/timing test.”  The test is met with evidence the official taking the personnel action knew of the disclosure, and that the personnel action occurred within a period of time such that a reasonable person could conclude the disclosure was a contributing factor in the personnel action.

- However, even if a supervisor was somehow aware that you made a “protected disclosure,” there may not be a finding of retaliation if the supervisor can show, by “clear and convincing evidence” that he or she would have given an unfavorable evaluation regardless of any knowledge of the protected disclosure.

- Clear and convincing evidence is that measure or degree of proof that produces in the mind of the trier of fact a firm belief as to the allegations sought to be established. It is a higher standard than “preponderance of the evidence.

- In determining whether an agency has shown by clear and convincing evidence that it would have taken the same personnel action in the absence of whistleblowing, the MSPB generally will consider the following factors:

  • The strength of the agency’s evidence in support of its action;
  • The existence and strength of any motive to retaliate on the part of the agency officials who were involved in the decision; and
  • Any evidence that the agency takes similar actions against employees who not whistleblowers but who are similarly situated. 

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