April 1, 2019
Nancy Berryhill, Acting Commissioner
Social Security Administration
64501 Security Boulevard
Baltimore, MD 21235-6401
Submitted via www.regulations.gov

Re: Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on Removing Inability to Communicate In English as an Education Category. 84 Fed. Reg. 1006 (February 1, 2019), Docket No. SSA- 2017-0046

Dear Acting Commissioner Berryhill:
Thank you for the opportunity to comment on the above proposed regulations. For the following reasons, I am concerned that by eliminating the “inability to communicate in English” factor in the “grid rules” it will have a negative impact and will disadvantage disabled claimants. In some cases, it may unfairly discriminate against these claimants. It will create inconsistencies in the application of various regulations. It is likely to reduce the number of scheduled hearings due to the need to undergo more lengthy cross-examinations of vocational witness.

“Inability to communicate in English”, in combination with a severe medically determinable impairment, as well as age, is recognized as an educational “erosion” factor that potentially can reduce the number of available occupations for claimants. Inability to communicate in English negatively affects numerous types of functional capacities. Many of these functional areas will now need to be included in several hypothetical questions presented to the Vocational Witness at hearings – thereby prolonging hearings. Lengthy hearings will reduce the number of available hearings to be scheduled. For example, additional cross examination of vocational witnesses may be required with regard to a claimant’s capacities: taking instructions from supervisors; speaking to customers; collaborating with co-workers on tasks; maintaining pace; adapting to changes in routine; remembering and carrying out instructions, etc.

If you would like to read our full complaint to Social Security and the additional reasons why this is a bad idea… simply click the link below.

Inability to Communicate Effectively job loss