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Term 'intellectual disability' carries less negative connotation

The aim of Social Security Disability Insurance is to provide assistance to individuals around the country -- including here in New Jersey -- that are unable to work because they struggle with a disabling condition, illness or injury. There are a variety of specific conditions that must be met in order to obtain these benefits.

However, it is not just financially that many of the individuals with disabilities in New Jersey struggle. Many Social Security Disability benefit recipients struggle with the stigma that surrounds their condition or illness. Individuals with cognitive disabilities are one such group that often fights the negative connotations and misunderstandings surrounding their disability.

Accordingly, the Social Security Administration has decided that they will attempt to move forward using the term "intellectual disability" in place of "mental retardation" when discussing individuals that live with cognitive or intellectual disabilities. This will not change the manner in which the Social Security Disability claims of such individuals are filed or approved, but it will work toward mitigating some of the stigma that these individuals face from the community at large.

One advocate of this change says, "Changing how we talk about people with disabilities is a critical step in promoting and protecting their basic civil and human rights. This is an important moment for people with disabilities because Social Security is a lifeline to so many."

To reiterate, while this hopeful change would be a great step forward for individuals with intellectual disabilities, it would not change the way that their claims are processed. Therefore, it would still greatly benefit such individuals in pursuit of benefits to seek the experience of a legal attorney to navigate the complex Social Security Disability process.

Source: Disability Scoop "Social Security Proposes Dropping 'Mental Retardation'," Michelle Diament, Jan. 29, 2013

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