The Social Security Administration (SSA) has published a new rule that could cause immigrants and limited English proficient people with disabilities to be denied vital income supports. Previously, SSA considered a person with a disability’s ability to communicate in English when evaluating whether they were able to work, and thus qualify for disability benefits. With this new rule, language ability would not be considered in these evaluations.
Congresswoman Mary Gay Scanlon has introduced legislation to roll back the new SSA rule, protecting immigrant and limited English proficient individuals with disabilities. CLS applauds Representative Scanlon, and urges people to contact their Congressional representatives in support of the bill.
The new rule comes just months after SSA has proposed to make people with disabilities reestablish disability at two-year intervals — a radical departure from the current three-to-seven-year policy — and as the federal government is moving forward with new “public charge” rules to consider poverty in making immigration status determinations.
In response to the new SSA rule, Chi-Ser Tran, Staff Attorney in Community Legal Services’ SSI Unit, said: “People with disabilities face huge barriers to finding full-time work, and those barriers are significantly higher when they are not able to communicate in English. In changing the law, SSA won’t push immigrants and people with limited English proficiency into the workforce. Instead, SSA is ensuring that people with disabilities who are struggling to get by won’t get the help they need. On behalf of our clients, we urge Congress to act quickly to roll back this rule.”