Wednesday, August 28, 2013

SSA Drops Official Term “Mental Retardation”; Switches to “Intellectual Disability”

Aside from being physically vulnerable, people with disabilities are likewise emotionally susceptible. Therefore, people that surround them should be sensitive enough when addressing or referring to them.

In the aspect of terminology, different terms have been used for disabled individuals across the globe for many years. The euphemism treadmill and changing fashions were said to have a direct impact to the rise and fall of the popularity of certain terms.

At present, “disability” or “impairment” is commonly used to identify people with disabilities, leaving the more specific terms such as “blind”, “deaf” and “handicapped”, which the disabled individuals often consider as offensive or even insulting.

Subsequently, the Social Security Administration (SSA) definitely understands that the people with disabilities would not want to be called with such unpleasant terms. Thus, in its recent announcement, it has confirmed that that it will abandon the use of the official term “mental retardation” and will be switching to a more modest “intellectual disability” in its Listings of Impairments.

Apparently, the agency is referring to its Compassionate Allowances Programs that is used in assessing claims involving mental disorders on both adults and children and in other proper sections of its rules.

The said modification is in line with the Congress’s unanimous agreement that was eventually turned into a law called Rosa’s Law way back in October 2010. Under the said law, the term “mental retardation” and “mentally retarded” should be stripped from federal health, education and employment policies and must be replaced with the term “intellectual disability”.

In April, 2012, the same effort was made in California. The state’s Senate has also stripped the “R” word and superseded with “Intellectual Disability” in provisions relating to educational and social services, commitment to state facilities, and felonious punishment. The same was deemed very significant by many Los Angeles social security claim lawyers.