Disability for Those with Inability to Speak English Expected to Change
The Trump administration is expected to change a federal rule this summer that for decades has allowed thousands of older citizens with proven mental or physical disabilities to qualify for federal benefits if they are also unable to communicate in English.
In its proposed rule change, the Social Security Administration (SSA) says the inability to read, write and speak in English is not the barrier it once was, because the “U.S. workforce has become more linguistically diverse and work opportunities have expanded for individuals who lack English proficiency.”
Members of Congress are squaring off over the proposal, with several Democrats saying the Trump administration is promoting an unnecessary and polarizing policy change that discriminates against older workers and is anti-immigrant. Some Republicans who favor the rule change, say the current system is antiquated and does not take into account how multilingual U.S. citizens and residents have become.
In the five-step application process for the disability insurance program, the language eligibility requirement can be considered only if the applicant reaches the final step and is at least 45 years old. To get there, applicants must prove, through medical records and physician testimony, that they have severe, long-term disabilities that prevent them from returning to their jobs. In addition, applicants must prove that they cannot function in other lines of work. Applicants who clear this eligibility requirement are often physically disabled and, because of a lack of English proficiency, are unable to switch to desk jobs.
The SSA uses a formula to determine whether applicants have paid a sufficient amount of Social Security and Medicare taxes to qualify. Applicants must be U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents or have one of a variety of legal immigrant statuses. Only about one-third of applicants ultimately qualify for benefits.
If you or a loved one are seeking Social Security benefits, contact Renda Law in Tacoma. Todd Renda has been working with local residents for more than 28 years and has a proven record helping people win the benefits they deserve. Call today for a FREE consultation.