Law Office of Jennifer Zorrilla

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SSDI rule will make it harder for non-English speakers

Disabled people in California who do not speak English may have a harder time qualifying for Social Security disability insurance under a new rule that was recently announced by the current administration. The new rule removes a lack of English-speaking ability from the factors that are taken into consideration when evaluating the education of applicants.

When people apply for SSDI benefits, the Social Security Administration assesses whether their disabling conditions prevent them from engaging in substantial gainful activity through employment. Part of this assessment includes an evaluation of an applicant’s educational level. Before the new rule, that evaluation included considering whether the applicant could speak in English since it is more difficult for non-English speakers to find employment.

The new rule is scheduled to be effective on April 27. Critics of the rule argue that older workers who cannot speak English and who have few transferable job skills will be harmed by the change. Critics estimate that the rule will negatively impact 10,000 applicants for SSDI benefits each year. They argue that the administration has failed to present any evidence that disabled workers who cannot speak English will be able to support themselves without governmental help and that the workers had paid into the system and earned their benefits.

Workers pay into the fund for Social Security disability through payroll deductions. The fund is meant to provide benefits to people who become disabled and are unable to return to work because of their medical conditions. People who have suffered disabling injuries or illnesses might want to get help from experienced Social Security attorneys. The lawyers may help their clients gather evidence to support the basis for their claims. If their clients receive denials, the attorneys may help them to gather additional evidence and represent them during the appeals process.

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