27 April 2015

"Don't speak English? We'll give you disability benefits."

As reported in the Washington Post:
Hundreds of Puerto Rico’s residents qualified for federal disability benefits in recent years because they lacked fluency in English, according to government auditors.

The Social Security Administration’s inspector general questioned the policy this month in light of the fact that Spanish is the predominant language in the U.S. territory...

The inspector general noted that a nurse in Puerto Rico who speaks only Spanish could be considered “unskilled” under current Social Security standards...

Nonetheless, auditors identified 218 cases between 2011 and 2013 in which the the Social Security Administration granted disability status to Puerto Rico residents because of the existing guidelines...

The Social Security Administration agreed with the proposals and said it is making preparations for a potential rule change, including by gathering research and taking input from federal experts and the public.
What kind of research needs to be done?  Change the rule already.


  1. WTF, Puerto Rico?? I just heard another story of PR problems on This American Life a couple weeks ago. Here's the written version...

    1. I've heard of the same technique used within the United States, with sheriff's offices (or community leaders)in northern states getting rid of problem residents (drunks, petty criminals) by giving them a one-way bus ticket to Florida in the winter.

    2. Well, that explains a few things about Florida.

      In the PR case, they're taking addicts from a tropical environment and shipping them off to Chicago and other cities where they end up on the street not knowing how to survive winter weather.

  2. I work for Social Security and I can confirm there are different rules for English speakers verses Illiterate and No English. It's in the Code of Federal Regulations, Appendix 2 to Subpart P of Part 404.


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