Everyday People Matter

Social Security Proposes Name Change for Mental Disability

| Feb 15, 2013 | Intellectual Disability

Persons who suffer from mental disabilities and are eligible for Social Security benefits could find the agency using a different name for these conditions. The agency has indicated that it intends to change its use of the term “mental retardation,” and switch to “intellectual disability.”

That proposal comes more than 2 years after a federal rule requiring a change in language to refer to these terms in all federal health, education as well as labor policies. However, Social Security is not really required to implement those changes too.

People who suffer from these mental conditions have for long insisted that the language used to refer to these conditions be changed in order to be more sensitive, and less offensive to these people. The term “mental retardation” has almost disappeared from the American lexicon, as people become more sensitive to the concerns of people who suffer from mental challenges. Therefore, it only seems appropriate that the Social Security Administration be more sensitive and also adopt the language changes.

The federal rule that requires the language change came under Rosa’s Law, which was passed by Congress more than 2 years ago. According to the Social Security Administration’s proposed rule which was published recently in the Federal Register, the agency has been contacted by a number of mental disability advocate organizations that have asked the agency to revise its language for mental retardation, and switch it to “intellectual disability.”

The rule that has been published in the Federal Register is now open for comments for 30 days, before there is any official change.