Change in Social Security Spoken Language Factor

February 26, 2020

New rule effective April 27


An informational alert prepared by Fifth Freedom

Information courtesy of the Social Security Administration


The Social Security Administration is working to modernize the rules and standards used to evaluate how disability benefits are determined. As part of this effort, the Administration will no longer be using the inability to communicate in English as a factor in awarding disability benefits.


The change eliminates the education category “inability to communicate in English” from disability claims evaluations for adults under titles II and XVI of the Social Security Act. The new rule is effective on April 27, 2020.


The update is part of the Administration’s efforts to stay in line with the current state of medicine and the continuing evolution of the modern workplace. According to a statement by Social Security Administration Commissioner Andrew Saul, “Research now shows the inability to communicate in English is no longer a good measure of a person’s education level or the ability to engage in work.  The new rule also supports the Administration’s longstanding focus of recognizing that individuals with disabilities can remain in the workforce.”


For information on eligibility or filing for benefits, call the Social Security Administration at 1-800-772-1213 (Voice) or 1-800-325-0778 (TTY), or visit  Need to visit your local Social Security office? You can find addresses at


Doug Schmidt

Executive Director

The Fifth Freedom Network

4606-C E. State Blvd., Suite 102

Fort Wayne, IN 46815