It’s Official: Social Security Drops ‘Mental Retardation’ Verbiage
Posted on Aug 17, 2013
Back in January, the Social Security Administration proposed replacing all references to ‘mental retardation’ and related terminology to ‘intellectual disability’ in the agency’s Listing of Impairments, associated databases, and other literature.
In a rule published in the Federal Register this Thursday, August 1st, the administration made the new verbiage their official policy. The change, which will not change how the SSA evaluates claims for individuals with disabilities of this nature, is slated to take effect on the first of September.
Over the course of the proposal’s availability for public comment, 71 of 76 comments were in agreement with abolishment of the term ‘mental retardation.’ Those who supported continued use of the existing terminology felt that linguistic precision was more important than the controversy surrounding it. Others supported replacing it with other verbiage, such as ‘cognitively impaired’ or ‘developmental disability.’
Said the agency of the change, “Advocates for individuals with intellectual disability have rightfully asserted that the term ‘mental retardation’ has negative connotations, has become offensive to many people, and often results in misunderstandings about the nature of the disorder and those who have it.”
Rosa’s Law, legislation signed into effect by President Obama in 2010, mandated the verbiage adjustment in federal health, education and labor policy. The Social Security Administration is the latest of many entities changing their language in spite of not being required to do so.
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