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G&G Weekly Update

Social Security Administration Seeks to Change Rules on Ability to Communicate in English

The Acting Commissioner of Social Security proposed rules that would ignore a claimant’s inability to communicate in English. These proposed rules would assume that, even if someone is entirely unable to read, write, or speak English, they are just as capable of performing work as a native English-speaker with the same level of education. This rule has been strongly opposed by Social Security claimants representatives and attorneys. It is also inconsistent with regulations of other agencies such as the Department of Homeland Security that states “an inability to speak and understand English may adversely affect whether an [immigrant] can obtain employment.” The current rule, dating back to 1978, was only a factor in 0.29% of allowed claims in Fiscal Year 2016.

David Spunzo is a Rhode Island native, a graduate of LaSalle Academy, Providence College, and the New England School of Law.