Below are a few general thoughts I have in response to your question(s):
1. Social Security Administrative Law Judges (ALJ's) are Federal employees appointed through a highly competitive process by which ALJ's for all Federal agencies are selected, and they are paid by the Federal government.
2. If you have already gone through an ALJ hearing and are now challenging a garnishment or repayment action by Social Security on benefits you would otherwise be receiving, then you should file an appeal and also seek a waiver, and you may want to consider seeking both a hearing as well as setting up a conference with your local Field Office to attempt to resolve these issues. As noted in other posts here, you must ensure that you meet strict timelines to preserve your rights.
3. You may also want to consider contacting the Constituent Services representative at the local office for your Congressperson. Each U.S. Representative has one or more local offices with specialists who can assist constituents with difficult Social Security cases such as yours. I rarely advise clients to go this route, because it should only be used in rare and difficult situations such as the one you describe here, but I would strongly suggest that you reach out to your local office.
4. If you do not currently have an attorney to assist you with these issues, I would recommend that you obtain assistance from a local attorney (or an accredited non-attorney representative) who specializes in Social Security law, because your chances of success in resolving these issues will increase significantly with representation. I've included a "Find a Representative" link below for one of the major national Social Security representative associations, and that should allow you to search for local representation if necessary. If you currently are represented, or if you were represented at the ALJ hearing level, however, then you should first contact that attorney to determine if they can still assist you with these matters.
5. Finally, check the language of your workers' compensation settlement documents carefully to see if they have language that pro-rates your settlement proceeds over your entire life expectancy, even if you received your settlement as a lump sum. If such language is not in your settlement documents, then determine if your workers' compensation attorney can submit an addendum to the workers' compensation settlement with the goal of Social Security then honoring the intent of the parties for the workers' compensation settlement to compensate you for your entire life expectancy.
Please note that I am authorized to represent clients nationwide for Social Security claims, but cannot address any specifics of your jurisdiction with respect to workers' compensation since I am a Georgia attorney, so your mileage on those issues may vary.
I hope this is of some help. I wish the absolute best with your claim and with the holiday season.
Timothy M. Klob
Klob Law Firm
Provision of information in response to this question does not create an attorney-client relationship and the questioner is encouraged to seek and retain legal counsel in order to discuss their question(s) further and directly with legal counsel. Respondent is licensed to practice law in Georgia before all Georgia courts for non-Federal matters with a primary focus on personal injury and workers' compensation. Respondent is also authorized by the Social Security Administration to represent claimants nationwide in Social Security Disability claims, and is admitted to practice before the United States District Courts for the Northern Districts of Georgia and Texas, respectively, for federal matters including judicial review of Social Security matters. The questioner is advised that some responses on this site are provided by attorneys who are not licensed in the respective jurisdiction of the questioner, and any advice from attorneys on this site concerning state-specific areas such as workers' compensation by attorneys who are not licensed in the applicable and appropriate jurisdiction should be viewed as for general educational purposes and should generally be given lesser weight than responses by attorneys licensed in the governing jurisdiction. Response to this question further assumes that the questioner is not currently represented by counsel, and if this is not the case, then it is recommended that any further questions or concerns be directed to their current legal counsel.
You should contact an attorney in your area immediately. If you repaid the worker's compensation insurer from the proceeds of a third party settlement, the offset that was applied to your social security benefits as a result of receiving worker's comp should be recalculated. You have a right to appeal overpayments and receive benefits pending an appeal, but normally you must file the appeal within 10 days of the receipt of the notice of overpayment. If you missed that time frame, you can try and negotiate a different payment schedule pending a hearing.
Social Security judges are employees of the federal government.