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He doesn’t speak English. Should that be considered in an application for disability benefits?

  June 10, 2019 | By Kimberly Kindy, The Washington Post

The Trump administration is expected to change a federal rule this summer that for decades has allowed thousands of older citizens with proven mental or physical disabilities to qualify for federal benefits if they are also unable to communicate in English.

In its proposed rule change, the Social Security Administration says the inability to read, write and speak in English is not the barrier it once was, because the “U.S. workforce has become more linguistically diverse and work opportunities have expanded for individuals who lack English proficiency.”

Members of Congress are squaring off over the proposal, with several Democrats saying the Trump administration is promoting an unnecessary and polarizing policy change that discriminates against older workers and is anti-immigrant. Some Republicans who favor the rule change say the current system is antiquated and does not take into account how multilingual U.S. citizens and residents have become.

The proposal reflects the Trump administration’s tougher policies toward immigrants. The president declared a national emergency in his quest to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border and has slashed refugee admissions to the United States to historic lows. Last week, it was revealed that the administration is canceling English classes and recreational programs for unaccompanied minors in federal migrant shelters.

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