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Social Security Disability: How Current is Current

Effective April 27, 2020, the Social Security Administration will no longer take into account a Claimant’s ability to effectively communicate in English when making a Social Security Disability determination. The original rules from 1978 were premised on the assumption that ‘‘it may be difficult for someone who does not speak and understand English to do a job, regardless of the amount of education the person may have in another language.” FR. Vol 85. No. 37 published February 25, 2020. The removal of the consideration has been somewhat controversial. Proponents of the removal of the consideration tout the move as progressive with the idea that the job market is more global now than it was Forty (40) years ago. The current Commissioner of the Social Security Administration Andrew Paul wrote in an article on Monday, February 24, 2020 “A successful disability program must evolve and support making the right decision as early in the process as possible. To help us do that, we must modernize the rules and standards we use to evaluate how we determine disability benefits.” Opponents of the removal see the move as aligning with a White House administration that is not immigrant friendly. The irony by Commissioner Paul saying the disability process must “evolve” is that the evaluation process still utilizes Vocational Experts who have to rely on stale numbers when providing potential other work Claimants could perform. Opposition to the change also questions whether the new rule takes into account accurate research relating to limited English Proficiency (LEP). The comments and responses to the proposed rule disagree as to whether the data relied upon when pushing the removal of a Claimant’s ability to effectively communicate in English is accurate. The data, when reading the background information to the rule in the Federal Registrar, appears to support or discredit both sides of the argument depending on how the reader cherry picks the record. The Social Security Administration seems to be attempting to speed up the application process which is excellent for social security disability applicants but at the same time the regulations relating to obtaining social security disability seem to be tightening making it more difficult to win social security disability benefits as well as keep those benefits. If you or a loved on have questions regarding social security disability benefits, please call 865-233-1105 and schedule a free consultation with one of our attorneys.