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. Kitchenlung

    I completely agree with the article that Social Security’s plain language is a great example for others to follow. It’s important for government agencies and organizations to communicate in a clear and concise manner to ensure that everyone can understand their policies and procedures. By using plain language, Social Security is able to make their information accessible to all, regardless of their level of education or literacy. I believe that more organizations should strive to adopt this approach and prioritize plain language in their communication strategies.
    what is agravity knife

    • Mt

      Well if it’s so clear and concise and they got an A+ for it . Can someone explain to me why I got denied my Social Security disability for severe mental illness for silver wrapper job that doesn’t exist in the national economy or anywhere else in the world can someone explain that to me

  2. kitchenlung

    I couldn’t agree more with the article that Social Security’s plain language is an excellent model to follow. It’s refreshing to see a government agency prioritize clear and concise communication with the public. By using plain language, Social Security is able to make their policies and procedures more accessible and understandable to the average person. I hope more agencies and organizations follow their lead and prioritize plain language in their communications.
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  3. Holly B.

    It is too bad that letters from SSA Baltimore and letters from local offices mailed the same day have contradictory information.

    • TW

      Most letters that I have received from Social Security are anything but clear. I yearn for explanations never provided.

    • Robert J.

      Why is our full SS # printed on mail piece? Seems like not secure to me

  4. D

    Know how important it is to start a sentence with a capital letter, Susan—particularly when you are praising your own writing.

  5. About C.


    • Susan

      That does not make any sense, based in my horrendous experiences. Who did that math for those ratings

  6. Bradley B.

    Hello I’ll make my comment as plain factual accurate,
    Clearly Defined
    My Brothers
    Med evidence from
    His Physician’s &
    Physical and
    Nursing staff
    Case management
    Reports notes & comments
    ALL describe abundantly clear
    my Brother’s devastating impairments FROM A LIFE SHATTERING
    Densely impacting global aphasia
    He’s unable to communicate
    HE CAN’T
    SPEAK or
    GESTURE bodily with sufficient accuracy
    unable to make informed decisions
    24 7 assistance dependent, incontinent × 2
    Toileting to bathing hygiene to clothing transfers to supervision feeding to all activities of daily living I’m his Brother I’m his sole care
    I’m non compensated we’ve saved tax payers about 400K time’s TWO
    Years since I’d filed disability on his behalf
    I’ve been
    Beaten UP
    till I’m sick
    Denied him at initial at Recon Appeal
    Labeled my brother an UNCOOPERATIVE CLAIMANT unwilling to provide medical evidence of an alleged disability
    CLEAR communication
    YOU have my email address look me up folks at the O.H.O in Sacramento CA
    He NEEDS an appropriate bed
    A W/D Ares busted 18 months ago laundering it poop and pee bedding by hand through our kitchen sink BLEACH SOAP never go the distance on my disability check alone THAT’S right I’m disabled too m.s. 09 year’s I understand physical pain
    Hand rails bed pan the list is pretty long HOW LONG SHALL My Brother endure without lawfully entitled benefits
    B Parker

    • Tony

      If you are claim he is disabled because you help him with all of his problems, then how are you disabled if you can do them.

      • Bradley B.

        Exhausted weakening declining discouraged
        absolutely resolved in that my dear
        Brother will NOT be placed in ANY SNF (skilled nursing facility) no matter what the costs are to my health.
        A SNF would be my Brother’s only alternative for placement if I wasn’t available too be his 24 7 assist. In fact His treating hospital it’s care team out voted me and our home vs SNF 0/all that voted. I understand it’s their butt in the fire if they’d made an inappropriate decision but my veto overrides their decision in any case. They placed my brother into a SNF and I pulled him out (actually my brother clawed himself through to the exterior somehow? and my party captured and brought him home. His wishes and mine prevail. Is our “his” overall risk of injuries worse for our decision? That’s debatable but considering his treating Physician’s opinion was that “he” wrote in the medical records “would I be surprised if this patient were to die inside of one year? No”. Will it’s TWO YEARS now were still alive. Our state of affairs health wise ain’t the best no doubt BUT much of that can be laid RIGHT ON THE ENTITY responsible for this SSA DDS Reps adjudicators writers whomever else in this unfortunate HURT. Am I obtaining any 100% efficiency assist HERE..? Not hardly. I’m puking over my own puke 24 7 BUT WERE here he’s here that’s THAT period.
        O.H.O. My Brothers SSA Disability e file??? I haven’t a clue one what the heck is in it? A my account in brother’s name has been impossible to open one of those. His Attorney I hired unfortunately was hired too late to effect a darn thing at that recon appeal. The Attorney hasn’t been able to effect nothing else either afterwards.
        I don’t even have knowledge of a scheduling date for an administrative law judge herring NOT that my brother’s likely going to live that distance to entertain at the darned thing there what ? 18 months booked that’s once we get a court date if we get a court date.
        Any other questions comments stabbings Tony?
        Thanks for Sharing


        Bradley Parker

      • Mt

        It’s his brother if you have to crawl and roll around on your back to help you do it. He really is sensitive replied is pretty detailed letter, he also says he has 24 seven nursing care

    • Tony

      There was a military veteran who was convicted of fraud stealing over $1 million in disability payments from the VA and SSA. He claim he was disabled due to MS.

    • Belinda W.

      Bradley B Parker,
      Your situation breaks my heart for both you & your brother.
      I’m taking care of my 42 year old Son whose Father passed away 25 years ago. We took care of him at home for 9 years while he suffered with a cancerous brain tumor. My Son’s condition became worse & he became ill with an incurable physical disease.
      I became ill with congestive heart failure & being a Caregiver for someone you Love, but because of the limitations your illness puts on you, the severe lack of help from the State Government & Federal agencies for disabled people, we trudge on, like wounded American Soldiers. I thank GOD IN THE NAME OF JESUS CHRIST, that I am a WOUNDED CHRISTIAN SOLDIER, MY MIGHTY WARRIOR WHO SAVES ME, IS FAITHFUL AND TRUE!

  7. David J.

    An examplatory agency indeed…!! Great work.

  8. Jennifer H.

    I am often astonished and confused at the amount of trendy terms that serve as “communication” these days. Keep it simple, keep it understandable and we all benefit. Thank you

  9. Jennie C.

    A great recognition and one we celebrate. Thank you for working hard to assure beneficiaries can comprehend, access and use the SSA website effectively. With appreciation and regard.

  10. Susan S.

    Great job! Well deserved scores!
    Before retirement, I occasionally responded to policies at work if they were poorly written or otherwise lacked clarity. Jargon has no place in guidelines and directive information.

    I also believe in using the Oxford comma.

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