Earlier this year, the Social Security Administration removed the requirement for speaking English from a portion of the Social Security disability insurance application. But what exactly does this mean? There seems to be a divide between people who interpret the change as a targeting among disabled individuals and others who see it as establishing fairness in expecting capable people to return or find work.

To make the purpose of Social Security disability clear, most disability applications are for short term use, meaning that the applicant will have been disabled for over a year but should return to work in the future. Most people are not on lifelong disability, and most people are not considered to be totally and permanently disabled. Additionally, the people who are disabled and cannot work are often diverted to Social Security income rather than Social Security disability; the two programs provide different benefits and have different requirements. Contact our Milwaukee disability attorneys for more information.

What is the Role of the English-Speaking Portion of the Application?

This change comes to the portion of the application, which assesses is an individual’s educational attainment level. The Social Security disability application evaluates the education level to gauge the vocational impact. Essentially, this portion is used to determine if it’s reasonable to expect someone to return to work with their current education level.

However, this part of the application has never been used as the end all be all decider for an SSDI application. What applicants put into this section is often used to assess the vocational impact and its effect on the national workforce. The rule of evaluating someone’s ability to communicate in English was put into place more than 40 years ago. The belief was that those who were not educated enough to communicate in English were incapable of holding a job.

The change comes as a wide variety of American citizens and residents frequently communicate in languages other than English. It is possible for non-English speakers to seek and maintain gainful employment. Additionally, it’s been established that the ability to speak English is not necessarily indicative of the applicant’s education level.

What Does This Rule Mean for Applicants?

This rule change does not mean a lot for applicants. The primary elements of the SSDI application relating to your health, abilities, and physical status are weighed far more heavily than Education status. The only time that education status takes a primary role in decision making on an SSDI application Is in regard to learning disabilities, and mental impairment.

For example, if someone experienced a shoulder injury that would put them out of work for at least a year and require extensive rehabilitation for them to return to work, it would not matter if they were an English speaker or not. The goal of Social Security disability is ultimately to provide benefits for those who are unable to work because of illness, injury, and certain health conditions.

Many believe that the old rule of not being able to speak English as a factor in the education section of the application Was providing more confusion during the application process than was necessary. It may have led many people to inaccurately complete applications, and it may have contributed to the extremely high SSDI denial rate In Wisconsin.

Non-English Speakers in America

Recent data shows that English is still the primary language spoken in the United States. However, there is a massive movement towards Americans becoming bilingual and multilingual. In the United States, there are over 43 million native Spanish speakers and over 2 million native Chinese speakers. Those counts on native Spanish and Chinese speakers don’t include the many millions more who are bilingual or multilingual.

Removing this element from the Social Security disability application can give non-English speakers a better scope of understanding when it comes to the information In their application. They can now complete their application, knowing that their ability to speak English or not is not having an effect on their right to disability benefits.

Do You Need Help with Your Application? Contact a Milwaukee SSDI Attorney

If you need help understanding the SSDI application, you’re not alone. These applications are confusing by nature, and many of the rules that apply to specific elements of the application Are very old and aren’t currently relevant. These are some of the reasons that it’s important to involve a Milwaukee SSDI attorney as you fill out your application for disability.

SSDI benefits should be available to anyone who’s contributed work credit or is unable to work for at least 12 months. Unfortunately, because of mistakes and confusion during the application process, and many people never get to access the benefits that they justly deserve and need. Contacting Tabak law could be your first step towards accessing these benefits and moving forward.

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