SSA Considers Changing English Language Rule for Disability Applicants

Law Firm Newswire



Tampa, FL (Law Firm Newswire) July 16, 2019 – The Trump Administration is seeking to modify a federal regulation that would lead to thousands of people with disabilities to lose eligibility for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) payments if they are unable to communicate in English.

Under the revised policy, the Social Security Administration (SSA) says lack of English proficiency is no longer an obstacle due to the U.S. workforce becoming “more linguistically diverse.” The Trump Administration suggested there are ample jobs available in which speaking, reading or writing English is not a significant factor.

“It seems the rule change would adversely impact one of the country’s most vulnerable populations,” commented Florida social security disability attorney David W. Magann. “The majority of jobs that do not require English language abilities tend to be in more physically demanding lines of work and unsuitable for people with disabilities. The proposed change puts those with limited English skills unfairly at risk of losing their disability benefits.”

Under the existing system, people can receive SSDI benefits if their English-language skills are limited enough that they are considered unemployable. Supporters of the new proposal say the current policy is outdated and fails to recognize the multilingual capabilities of citizens and residents of the United States.

Critics say the rule change discriminates against older workers and is anti-immigrant. A House Appropriations Committee report described it as a “harmful and unjustified attempt” to prevent older workers who have “pervasive limitations” from receiving disability benefits.

The disability insurance program consists of a five-step application process. The English language eligibility requirement is considered only if the benefits applicant reaches the last step and is age 45 or over. Applicants are required to prove they have serious, long-term disabilities that prevent them from resuming their former jobs. In addition, they must show that they cannot take on other types of employment.

Individuals who clear the final step usually have physical disabilities and lack of English proficiency that prevent them from working desk jobs. Only about a third of applicants become eligible for monthly disability payments.

The SSA proposal projected that up to 6,500 applicants each year would no longer be eligible for SSDI benefits if the rule change is finalized. It would result in estimated savings of $4.6 billion over the next decade.

Learn more at

Learn more at David W. Magann, P.A. Main Office: 156 West Robertson Street Brandon, FL 33511 Call: (813) 657-9175 Tampa Office: 18715 N Dale Mabry Hwy Lutz, FL 33548
Loading RSS Feed