Much like this country, the term “disabled” has progressed over the years. Being on disability used to be for citizens who wanted to work, but were not physically able. Nowadays, we have people claiming disability who are physically able, but they don’t want to work. Behavior like that only hurts those who are seriously disabled.
A large number of Puerto Rican residents have reportedly been classified as â€œdisabledâ€ under Social Security guidelines because they donâ€™t speak English very well.
According to the Washington Post, â€œunder Social Security regulations, individuals are considered less employable in the United States if they canâ€™t speak English, regardless of their work experience or level of education.â€
A new auditÂ by the Office of Inspector General (OIG) shows the agency is misapplying rules that are intended to provide financial assistance to individuals who are illiterate or cannot speak English in the United States.
â€œWe found the Agency did not make exceptions regarding the English-language grid rules for claimants who reside in Puerto Rico, even though Spanish is the predominant language spoken in the local economy,â€ the OIG said.
The audit said a person applying for disability in Puerto Rico who cannot speak English â€œmay increase his/her likelihood of receiving disability benefits.â€
The agency does not currently have a system in place to keep track of the number of beneficiaries who receive disability insurance for not being able to speak English.
However, the OIG was able to identify 218 cases between 2011 and 2013 where Puerto Ricans were awarded disability due to â€œan inability to communicate in English.â€
Though 95 percent of Puerto Ricans speak Spanish at home, according to the rules a Spanish-speaking nurse in Puerto Rico would be considered â€œunskilled,â€ the OIG said.
The SSA told the OIG that the rules are applied one-size-fits-all.
Puerto Rico has been a US territory since the end of the Spanish-American War and has taken several referendum votes to determine whether its citizens wanted to become the nationâ€™s 51st state.
The people of Puerto RicoÂ voted against changing their status in 1967, 1993 and 1998. Their most recent vote on the issue â€“ in 2012 â€“ had a different result. In that referendum, over 61 percent of Puerto Rican voters indicated that they wanted full statehood for Puerto Rico.