Social Security Will No Longer Use the Term “Mental Retardation”

From the Austin Daily Herald:

This week marks a great victory for people with disabilities across the United States!

The Social Security Administration (SSA) announced it will no longer use the term “mental retardation” and will instead use “intellectual disability” in its official Listing of Impairments and other regulations.

The SSA started this process in January and its decision brings us one step closer to a policy world free of the R-word. This victory comes less than three years after Pres. Barack Obama signed Rosa’s Law, which substituted the stigmatizing word with the terms “intellectual disability” and “individual with an intellectual disability” in federal health, education, and labor policy statutes.

The thousands of advocates who have spent decades working in the disability policy field know that change like this doesn’t come quickly or easily.  However, once the SSA decided to make a change, the agency was able to move from the initial public notice of proposed rulemaking to the final rule in just eight months.

The SSA’s decision to use modern, respectful terminology will affect millions of children and adults with intellectual disability who over the course of their lives may need Social Security or Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

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