Tuesday, May 2, 2017

SSA Plain Writing Compliance Report

Plain Writing Act
“The most valuable of all talents is that of never using two words when one will do.” — Thomas Jefferson 

If you are in need of assistance from one of the various Social Security Administration (SSA) programs, such as Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI), the first place you might turn to for information is likely to be the Internet. The SSA website is meant to be guide to help access certain benefits that can make or break one’s ability to keep a roof over your head or food on the table. While that course of action is simple in theory, for years countless people have found the process of applying for social assistance programs utterly confusing, which can hinder some from accessing the help they desperately need.

Naturally, pleading one’s case for SSDI or SSI is a process that takes some time, there are number of requirements that one must fulfill in order to gain access to the benefits they need. How clearly the steps that need to be taken are explained by the SSA can make all the difference. Your average person is probably not familiar with the language employed by most government agencies, let alone one so vital as the Social Security Administration.

The Plain Writing Act of 2010

In an effort to help the average citizen navigate the waters for of any government agency, including social welfare, the Plain Writing Act of 2010 was signed into law. “An act to enhance citizen access to Government information and services by establishing that Government documents issued to the public must be written clearly, and for other purposes.”

Government agencies thus, under the law were required to essentially rewrite, shorten or remove esoteric jargon that might confuse your average American. And in it stead, provide clear and concise information. Information that “the public can understand and use."

SSA benefits are vital to millions of Americans, a number that continues to grow with each year that passes. The agency understands and is committed to improving the readability of its websites, notices, PDFs, and public-facing documents.

2016 Plain Writing Compliance Report

The process of trimming all writing, across multiple platforms is no easy task, requiring thousands of man-hours and the assistance of information technologies. Recently, the SSA released a report highlighting the progress the agency has made and what they will work on moving forward. Notably:
  • Training employees on Plain Writing, business writing and grammar, and effective writing techniques.
  • Completing a one-year pilot of the Acrolinx editing tool, and purchased licenses for FY 2017;
  • Earning a “B+” for the Writing and Information Design grade on the Federal Plain Language Report Card.
“Our 2016 Plain Writing Compliance Report documents this year’s agency-wide compliance activities and accomplishments. One significant action was to pilot the Acrolinx software. Nearly 500 employees took part in this pilot. Acrolinx has become a valuable tool in our efforts to promote Plain Writing and uniformity when complying with the Act throughout the agency.”

Need Help With the SSA

Qualifying for disability benefits can be trying, leading to unneeded stress. If you, or a loved one could use help, please contact Stephanie Merritt Driscoll. If you can’t work, have been denied SSA benefits, or are applying for the first time—as a Social Security disability advocate, Attorney Driscoll can help.

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