Social Security Disability and English proficiency

On Behalf of | Feb 28, 2020 | Social Security Disability

Like most of your neighbors, you take great pride in your work. Not only does your job give you a ready means of supporting yourself and your family, but it also lets you use your unique skills and talents. A serious illness or life-altering injury, though, may render you unable to continue to work. Fortunately, if you qualify for them, Social Security Disability benefits may help you make ends meet. 

Recently, the Social Security Administration announced a change to the way officials evaluate SSD claims. If you do not speak English well, the rule change may have a negative impact on your SSD application. The rule takes effect on April 27, 2020. 

The ability to reenter the workforce 

When deciding whether someone should receive SSD benefits, SSA adjudicators consider the person’s education level and his or her ability to reenter the workforce. That is, if a person can find gainful employment, he or she may not qualify for SSD benefits. Since 1978, the SSA has generally viewed applicants over the age of 45 who are unable to speak English fluently to have a barrier to reentering the workforce. 

A change in policy 

The new rule removes English-language proficiency as a factor when determining an applicant’s potential to reenter the workforce. As such, while not being able to speak English proficiently certainly may make finding a job more difficult, SSA officials will no longer consider it to be a valid reason to extend SSD benefits. You may still qualify for them based on other factors, nonetheless. 

Clearly, if you can no longer work because of an illness or injury, you likely need to explore all options for continuing to support yourself and your family members. You must realize, however, that the SSA is working to overhaul existing SSD eligibility in a number of ways. If you do not speak English proficiently, knowing how the latest SSA rule change is apt to affect your application is an essential part of your benefits strategy. 

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