Social Security Benefits – An Unfair Proposal

The process to qualify for benefits through the Social Security Administration (SSA) due to a disability can be long and complicated, because the SSA must consider multiple factors in making the determination for eligibility. Under the current SSA rules, the inability to speak English is one of those factors which must be considered. The SSA describes the reason for including this English language factor in making that determination:

“Because English is the dominant language of the country (USA) it may be difficult for someone who doesn’t speak and understand English to do a job, regardless of the amount of education the person may have in another language,” the SSA says in section 404.1564 of the administration’s code of federal regulations. “Therefore, we consider a person’s ability to communicate in English when we evaluate what work, if any, he or she can do.”

President Trump’s administration is now considering eliminating the inability to speak English as a factor when considering eligibility to receive disability benefits. One of the main reasons cited by the administration for changing the rules is that applicants in Puerto Rico where English is not the primary language are using their inability in English as a basis for receiving disability benefits. What a singularly ridiculous excuse to deny disability benefits to applicants who do not speak English in the continental Unities States – where English is the primary language. Donald Trump was anti-immigration from the day he announced his candidacy for President, and the proposed rule changes target immigrants, and specifically those from South America. I have read that as many as 10,500 disabled applicants may be denied disability benefits under the proposed rules.

Here’s an example of the consequences that the new rules may have. Two men, each age 45, are seriously injured while working at their construction jobs, which they have held for 20 years and both have paid social security taxes for that period. Both are family men with unblemished criminal records and both have served in the US military. Now, both apply for disability benefits – and both are denied those benefits, but for starkly different reasons: the first, because he speaks English and the second, because he does not. The first will likely get another job because he can speak English, and the second won’t be able to get a job and must wait almost 20 years to get his SSA benefits. The proposal is patently unfair and may violate the second man’s XIV amendment rights of “equal protection under the law.” Leave me accomment to let me know how you feel about this important matter, and don’t forget to let your congressional representatives know how you feel.

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