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Intellectual Disability Replaces Mental Retardation

Posted by Louis B. Lusk | Aug 02, 2013 | 0 Comments

Intellectual Disability Replaces Mental Retardation

The Social Security Administration (SSA) has recently published a new final rule changing the term mental retardation to intellectual disability. Why change terms? The SSA states that the “change reflects the widespread adoption of the term ‘intellectual disability' by Congress, government agencies and various public and private organizations.” Terminology Change While retarded started out as a medical term, it has warped into a derogatory application. The SSA's final rule publication in the Federal Register states “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.” The Urban Dictionary defines a retard as: A person born with a mental condition and therefore has to work a million times harder to be able to do simple things (such as learn and communicate) that we take for granted. On top of this, a retard will usually suffer a lot of ridicule from society because people fear what they do not understand. The people who choose to make fun of the mentally retarded tend to be complete morons and cannot comprehend that these people have feelings and emotions just like anyone else. Information from the Urban Dictionary Origination of the Change This change is in keeping Rosa's Law that Congress passed and President Obama signed into law in October 2010. Rosa's Law is named for Rosa Marcellino, a Special Olympics athlete from Maryland. Does this change Social Security Disability? This terminology change will not change Social Security Disability (SSD) payments for those with intellectual disability. The SSA defines intellectual disability and then describes how to assess the mental and/or physical limitations that would prevent individuals with intellectual disability from having gainful employment. Intellectual disability “refers to significantly subaverage general intellectual functioning” that is present during a child's developing years usually described as before age 22. Intellectual disability is described as · Being dependent “upon others for personal needs (e.g., toileting, eating, dressing, or bathing) and having an inability to follow directions”; or · A valid verbal, performance, or full scale IQ of 59 or less; or · A valid verbal, performance, or full scale IQ of 60 to 70 and a physical or other mental impairment imposing an additional and significant work-related limitation of function; or · A valid verbal, performance, or full scale IQ of 60 to 70, resulting in at least a marked restriction of daily living activities; and/or marked difficulties in maintaining social functioning; and/or marked difficulties in maintaining concentration, persistence, or pace; and/or repeated episodes of deterioration of organs like the heart or kidneys for extended periods of time. Information from the Social Security Administration While this terminology change may not appear to be a big deal and just a feel good measure, it is giving respect to those who have been marginalized and ridiculed. If you or a family member is intellectually disabled and needs SSD, contact our experienced attorney to assist you in getting the assistance you or your family member deserves. See Related Posts: Worrying to the Point of Disability Rheumatoid Arthritis Can Lead to Disability Fair Housing Act Requires Reasonable Accommodations

About the Author

Louis B. Lusk

About Louis B. Lusk – Disability Attorney Attorney Louis B. Lusk has helped thousands of disabled individuals recover Social Security disability and SSI disability benefits.  He is an active member of the National Organization of Social Security Claimant's Representatives (NOSSCR), an organizat...


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If you have been turned down for Social Security disability call me at 1 (800) 407-1516. I look forward to hearing from you.