WASHINGTON The Social Security Administration’s (SSA) Office of the Inspector General (OIG) recently issued a report on the determination of disability claims from applicants who cannot communicate in English. The OIG found at least 218 cases in Puerto Rico where a disability rule was applied to the advantage of a claimant who was unable to communicate in English, even though Spanish is one of the islands official languages.
Chairman Sam Johnson has previously called attention to these “grid rules” as one of the challenges facing the Disability Insurance program. In 2012, the Government Accountability Office released a report requested by Chairman Johnson, which found the SSA relies on an outdated view of disability. In 2014, he introduced H.R. 5260, the Stop Disability Fraud Act of 2014, which would require the SSA to update the grid rules for the first time since they were created in 1979.
In response to the OIG report, Chairman Johnson made the following statement:
“As part of my commitment to the disability community and the American taxpayer, I am looking for ways to make the disability program work better, and updating the grid rules to reflect todays world is one way to do so. It makes absolutely no sense that Social Security has been relying on rules that are over 35 years old to determine if someone should receive benefits. While I am encouraged that Social Security is finally getting around to taking a look at these rules, I will be introducing legislation to make sure they actually do so. The American people expect Social Security to use common sense, not outdated thinking, when determining who should receive disability benefits.“