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Social Security faces lawsuit for firing language interpreter

Published on September 13th, 2013

If you’ve ever applied for Social Security disability benefits then you know how complicated the form can be. One small mistake can even result in denied benefits, despite demonstrating an obvious disability. In the end, many people are forced to appeal their claim which can take significantly more time and can even require the help of a skilled attorney as well.

But while this may be easier said than done for most English speaking Americans, this may not be the case for others. This is especially true for those who don’t speak English very well or not even at all. For them, applying for disability benefits can be a daunting task, especially without the help of an interpreter to guide them through the process. In the end, they could be in the same group of denied applicants but without help for appeal.

This was the case that was made by a group of Vietnamese refugees recently who filed a federal claim against the Social Security Administration for suspending the only fluent Vietnamese-speaking attorney in California. As our Indiana readers can understand, without the help of the interpreter, applicants found their claims were often denied, despite needing benefits, and found it nearly impossible to effectively appeal their claims.

The class-action lawsuit names Acting Social Security Commissioner Carolyn W. Colvin as the main defendant and requests that the Vietnamese-speaking attorney be reinstated to her position. The hope is that if the attorney is reinstated then the refugees will be able to file their claims without encountering further complications with their applications.

Source: Courthouse News, “Vietnamese Refugees Sue Social Security Boss,” Elizabeth Warmerdam, Sept. 4, 2013

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