SSA Removes English Language Rule from Disability Criteria

The Social Security Administration (SSA) has issued a rule that could significantly change how disability determinations are made for non-English speakers applying for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI). The rule repeals a decades-old regulation that dictated that the inability to speak English should be taken into consideration when determining whether a person should receive disability benefits. As a result, anyone applying for SSDI or SSI benefits should be aware of the potential impact the rule could have on their application.

The new rule, titled “Removing Inability to Communicate in English as an Education Category,” relates to the evaluation process that every person goes through when they apply for SSDI or SSI benefits. Apart from being evaluated to determine the existence and severity of any disability they might be suffering from, they are also examined to see what jobs they might be able to perform based on their education, training and experience. One of the criteria that was used in that evaluation was whether the applicant was able to speak in English, given that the inability to speak English was a major deterrent in finding work.

However, the SSA argued that a lack of fluency in English is no longer an inherent impediment in finding work, nor is it a reliable indicator of a person’s education level or vocational experience. Due to the prevalence of non-English options for a variety of services, including government services, as well as the growth of international outreach for disability programs, the SSA has stated that using a person’s English language proficiency as a criteria for determining their ability to find work is no longer appropriate. The new rule will come into effect on April 27, 2020.

If you or a loved one need assistance applying for SSDI or SSI benefits, it is important that you seek the guidance of an experienced Social Security Disability benefits lawyer. The lawyers at Sullivan & Kehoe, LLP have over 50 years of combined experience between its attorneys and are available to you or your loved one in obtaining Social Security Disability or Supplemental Security Income benefits. To schedule a consultation with our New York Social Security Disability benefits lawyers, call (631) 823-7155.

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