The Social Security Administration (SSA) has directed its employees to incorporate inclusive language in all the agency’s written materials as those materials are drafted and updated. In Emergency Message (EM) 22052, effective September 22, 2022, SSA explains this directive is in keeping with administration and agency priorities to provide a service that reflects the diversity of customers.
Inclusive language is defined as language that reflects recognition of diversity and fosters participation by all:
Inclusive language promotes respect by placing individuals first, over characteristics. Inclusive language is particularly important for individuals in underrepresented communities and those who have been historically affected by inequality, including, but not limited to people of color, migrants, women, individuals who identify as LGBTQI+, older individuals, individuals with disabilities and individuals experiencing persistent poverty or homelessness.
Authors are directed to a new section of the internal Quality Initiative for Commissioner’s Correspondence (QUICC) Handbook, Incorporating Inclusive Language in Internal & External-Facing Documents and Resources for guidance – a resource not available to the public. The EM indicates that the directive will apply to all internal and external documents, including disability decisions. It does acknowledge, however, that adjudicators may continue to use the term “disabled” when making findings for purposes of disability claims.