Social Security’s Plain Language Is “An Excellent Model to Follow”

February 16, 2023 • By

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Last Updated: February 16, 2023

Senior woman working on laptop computerI know how important it is that we communicate information to you—and everyone—in a clear and concise way. Our programs and policies can sometimes be complex and difficult. This is why we strive to use plain language that is easy to read, understand, and use.

I am proud to say that we achieved the highest score of any agency in government on the Center for Plain Language’s 2022 Federal Plain Language Report Card.

The Center evaluated 21 Executive Branch agencies, including all 15 cabinet-level departments, and graded each between an A+ and F- for writing quality and organizational compliance.

Social Security received an A+ for organizational compliance and an A for writing quality. This is an improvement over last year’s high scores of A+ and B.

“An excellent model to follow is the Social Security Administration’s Contact Us page, the only one to earn an A+,” the Center said in its key findings.

“The web page is clear in its intended purpose to provide information readers seek,” the Center said. “The page has clear and concise language and the reader is addressed directly,” it noted.

The Center also cited “excellent use of links, colors, fonts, sizing, bolding, bullets, and imagery to highlight important information.”

In addition, the Center recognized our Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Request page as an excellent model for other agencies. The 2022 Plain Language Report Card was released on January 10, 2023.

While it’s nice to be recognized, what really matters is what these scores represent: that we are successfully providing you with information that is easy to read, understand, and use.

Learn more about Social Security’s Plain Language Program at Plain Writing | SSA.

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  1. M.

    Our family has been denied for “EVERYTHING’ we have applied for…Rental Assistance, SSI/SSDI, unemployment, ect…We have had covid 3 times, have had “no income’ since 2021…So, first time we had covid, it caused brain fog, breathing issues,heart issues, narcolepsy, losing track of time, among other issues…we couldn’t figure out what was going on with us, as our first battle with covid was so early on that long haul covid was not even known or coined..actually, income was lost as a result of these issues (fired for working off the clock, because somehow two or three hours would be unaccounted for while on the clock, initially assumed it was due to some type of zoning out, didn’t realize that I had been asleep, I wasn’t tired, waking up from narcolepsy onsets are not apparent, you don’t even realize you woke up or were even ever asleep for that matter…but, knowing somehow no work was done while on the clock for several hours each day, with no recollection of what took place during those unaccounted hours, well…only could be viewed as taking advantage of company I worked for, and just didn’t seem right. Therefore, in order to balance out/adjust/or compensate for those hours, working off the clock was appropriate and fair thing to do…as…not doing so would in my mind equate to padding time or charging company for time not worked.)
    Several months later, long haul covid was finally announced on tv news and internet..but, at that time, we assumed that eventually we would recover, and resume our pre-covid capacity…but, to date, said issues still exist. Applied for unemployment upon termination, but company denied claim and stated employee was at fault. Pandemic unemployment was offered at the time of termination, and was told to apply for that. Received pandemic unemployment benefits for about three weeks, then stopped receiving funds. At that time,was told that they were short staffed, behind on payments, but would receive funds for those weeks once they caught back up. Called every week or two, finally, after several months went by, without receipt of PUI checks, and finally getting someone to look into further, was told to reapply for regular UI that should not be receiving PUI. Followed through, however, again, no checks…again told behind on issuing checks, yet after a couple more weeks, was told that since health issues prevented ability to obtain employment, had to again reapply for PUI, but program was scheduled to end in a week. After reapplying, was told that we had applied for both UI and PUI and that we owed them money, because of receiving double payments..When we did not receive “ANY” payments. After many calls, several hours of time wasted trying to set record straight, finally reached someone who was aware of situation. Although, we were not on the line to pay back funds not received, we would not be receiving any past weeks funds as program had ended. UI told us PUI program ended, yet, due to inability to work or actively seek employment due to health issues, UI inapplicable. Disability set up appointments with their doctors. Their doctors agreed and verified health issues stated on application, however, denied, due to supposedly being able to do simple repetitive tasks (really, Was paying bill online, and fell asleep inputting credit card number..I mean narcolepsy hits out of nowhere, no warning, nothing…therefore, how would obtaining any type of employment differ from job terminated from?) Like that’s an experience anyone would want to relive…almost like saying, “hey, you don’t have enough issues or depression, looks like you could use a little more”. Okay, so…denial letter was dated Nov. 2, ( possibly 5th…I’d have to pull out letter I have filed away…but…worst caseenerio…we will utilize Nov. 2 )appealed online, January 7. Received final denial letter, stating appeal wasn’t timely. First denial letter states “in black AND white” 60 days to appeal, day 1 begins on 6th day after date letter was written. So…let’s do the math…
    letter dated Nov 2.,
    (day 1 of 5) Nov 3,
    (day 2 of 5) Nov. 4,
    (day 3 of 5) Nov 5,
    (day 4 of 5) Nov 6,
    (day 5 of 5) Nov 7
    Therefore, Nov 8 would be DAY 1
    anyway…you get the picture..
    Now…I’m gonna cheat and utilize date converter online via Google…Convert Dates › 60 › 20…
    60 Days From November 8, 2022
    Answer says: Jan 7…
    Therefore, unjustly denied! Contacted State SSI headquarters, they stated local SSI has jurisdiction, local SSI is the one who denied…”WHAT? So, seriously, no one to conduct due diligence? No one to oversee or hold these employees accountable for their decisions? Or to ensure they follow their own protocol or ability to mathematically utilize addition or Google “date conversion”.

    And…when applying for rental assistance, was refused because my older sister owns house/property we are renting…Therefore, we have had to sell things we worked all our lives for, Mom had to sell all her rental/investment properties in order to help us pay rent and utilities/car payment, etc. And spouses’ parents had to utilize 401K and savings account to help us…because…just because We are renting from a family member…doesn’t mean that there isn’t a mortgage on house…So…not only has covid caused us financial suicide, our parents and other family members are also to either also commit financial suicide or else see their children and grand-children homeless.

    We “ONLY” moved temporarily, in order for “Our house” to be renovated…but, due to “stay at home moratorium”, squatters moved in (and rented out 5 bedrooms for $500-$600 / per, destroyed house, stole solar panels…sold drugs, and received disability payments, yeah, its a mess,our home is now in foreclosure) before person who was to perform renovations could get to our home, as they had to complete previous job before performing work on our home). So, money we had saved to pay for renovations…went toward mortgage and utilities on our home that squatters took up residence in (10 months). Due to criminal activities we were able to evict, prior to moratorium dissolving.

    Seriously…I’m kind of curious as to how one obtains government assistance, I know some people have been able to access it, but for some reason or another, there’s some stipulation that deems us ineligible. And, where we currently live…Ive found black mold, and…we are sick more days than not..had we of been able to receive assistance in the beginning, we may have been able to regain our health, get back on our feet, and assistance may have been temporary. As, we believe in parents modeling for their children, and self-sufficiency, working for what you have, nothing is free…has been an something we have tried to instill in our children.Going from $250000 plus per year to zero…and not being able to do simple tasks (laundry..switching from washer to dryer, or even…taking a shower ar times is exhausting)…it is really difficult at times to stay positive and not allow depression to just take over…it is especially difficult when you as a parent feel as though you are constantly letting your children down, and are not able to buy them anything they want…as needs take precedence, and, sometimes, they have to wait to obtain those.

    I am not trying to complain, I’m not trying to point fingers. I’m just really trying to figure out how to get some sense of my life back…and be somewhat the parent my children deserve.

  2. James

    I’ve gone through your blog. It is helpful and beneficial. Keep posting and sharing!

    • Do D.

      Truly great information!

  3. Johnson

    Great post! I especially enjoyed your discussion on the importance of being mindful. Your points are clear and well-researched. Keep up the great work!

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