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Change Proposed in Social Security Disability's Listing of Impairments

People affected by disabilities such as low IQ and inability to function because of below-average intellectual capacity are eligible for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits under certain circumstances. The Social Security Administration (SSA) has indicated that it wants to stop using the phrase "mental retardation" and begin using the term "intellectual disability" instead in its publications and rules.

The SSA is not required by law to make this change. However, other federal agencies are required under Rosa's Law to stop using the phrase "mental retardation"; the SSA wants to do the same.

In its rule change proposal, published in the Federal Register, the agency said:

Advocates for individuals with intellectual disability have rightfully asserted that the term 'mental retardation' has negative connotations, has become offensive to many people, and often results in misunderstandings about the nature of the disorder and those who have it.

Currently, Social Security refers to "mental retardation" and "mentally retarded children" in its Listing of Impairments. These terms would be replaced by "intellectual disability" and "children with intellectual disability" if the change is adopted after the 30-day comment period ends.

This is not the first time that the SSA has tried to change how it refers to intellectual disabilities. In 2010, it issued a proposed eligibility rule change that also included a suggested name change, from "mental retardation" to "intellectual disability/mental retardation." However, nothing was enacted after the expiration of the 30-day comment period.

The agency is not planning to change how Social Security Disability claims are evaluated. In any event, obtaining benefits for intellectual disabilities is complex. Having help from someone who understands these specialized types of SSD claims is critical. If you are seeking benefits for yourself or a loved one with an intellectual disability, do what hundreds of thousands of others have done. Call Binder & Binder®, America's most successful disability advocates. They can advise you and help you get the benefits you need and deserve.

Source: Disability Scoop, "Social Security Proposes Dropping 'Mental Retardation'," by Michelle Diament, Jan. 29, 2013.

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