Disability Rights groups and millions of Americans are applauding the Social Security Administration (SSA)’s proposal to stop using the term “mental retardation” in its official List of Impairments. The SSA will replace the now outdated classification with “intellectual disability,” a more current term that is less likely to reinforce stereotypes and negative connotations. SSA evaluators use the List of Impairments to decide whether an applicant qualifies for disability benefits.
The decision to change the term comes two years after the passing of Rosa’s Law. This piece of legislation required a switch to “intellectual disability” for all health, educational and labor entities under the federal government. The SSA chose to make this change, though it was not required to by law.
After its official proposal, the name change will be subject to a 30-day waiting period to allow for public comment.
As we learn more about mental and intellectual disabilities, our language and attitudes toward them must change as well. We know now that disabilities are not just physical. Some hardworking Americans are simply unable to hold employment because of their intellectual disabilities.
“Changing how we talk about people with disabilities is a critical step in promoting and protecting their civil rights,” said Peter Burns, CEO of The Arc, an advocacy group for people with disabilities. “This is an important moment for people with disabilities because Social Security is a lifeline to so many – it allows people with [intellectual disabilities] to live in their communities and be as independent as possible.”
If you have questions about applying for disability benefits or are unsure if you even qualify, contact a Tulsa Social Security disability attorney. We offer free consultations, and you may reach us by phone at (918) 587-0050. Contact us today to learn more about your rights and what we may be able to do for you.