Social Security Disability Insurance is an important program that provides essential financial support to individuals throughout Michigan and through the country who cannot work due to a disability. With strict regulations in place that are reviewed regularly, the Social Security Administration has tried to come up with guidelines that are fair and accurate in determining who truly needs benefits. However, recent information garnered from a government audit may be prompting the administration to take another look at parts of its policy.
The audit found that between 2011 and 2013, just over 200 people from Puerto Rico were approved for disability benefits based on the fact that they are not proficient in English. This discovery may have some people wondering how this is true when most people in the U.S. territory speak Spanish.
Under SSA rules, an inability to speak English makes a person less employable in the U.S., even for those who have a good educational background or otherwise employable skills. While an inability to speak fluent English may be a problem for people in Michigan, it likely does not have much of an impact for people looking for work in Puerto Rico.
To address the issue, the SSA is now considering changing its policy. One option is to take into account a person’s local conditions when reviewing his or her application for disability benefits. Different skills and abilities are necessary in different areas, so this may be a positive change. It will be interesting to see whether they make this revision and how it will apply to people in Michigan.
Source: The Washington Post, “Puerto Ricans who can’t speak English qualify as disabled for Social Security,” Josh Hicks, April 10, 2015