Social Security Administration (SSA) is committed to providing fair and equitable service to the American public, regardless of an individual’s ability to communicate effectively in English.
We recognize that using qualified interpreters, including bilingual staff who can communicate directly with claimants in their primary language, efficiently facilitates our processes, deters fraud, and assures that we do not disadvantage individuals with limited English proficiency (LEP).
Disability determination services (DDS) will provide an interpreter (free of charge ) to any individual requesting language assistance, or when it is evident that such assistance is necessary to ensure that the individual is not disadvantaged.
DDS will not require individuals needing language assistance to provide their own
Individuals have the option of using their own interpreter, such as a family member, friend, or third party, if the interpreter meets SSA criteria as a qualified interpreter. For more information regarding qualified interpreter, see DI 23040.001B.3.
The DDS must first review the claims folder for documentation of a qualified interpreter approved by the field office (FO) prior to obtaining information about the individual’s interpreter, see DI 23040.001C.1. For information on documentation requirements when using an interpreter, see DI 23040.001G and DI 23040.001H.
A minor child (under age 18) cannot serve as a qualified interpreter due to the nature and complexities of the disability determination process. For more information regarding when a minor child may assist with interpretation, see DI 23040.001E.5.
Special handling procedures apply to claims for LEP individuals, see DI 23007.005C, DI 22510.016A and DI 28075.005C.6.