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Supreme Court decision adopts new term "intellectual disability"

Although the movement has been afoot for some time to cut out use of the term “mental retardation,” a recent decision by the nation’s highest court seems to be a significant marker of the progress made on this front. The decision in question, which dealt with the issue of whether when states may or may not determine the presence of intellectual disability in connection with IQ test scores, contained a section explaining why the court would be adopting the term intellectual disability.

The decision to do so is based in part on the most recent edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. According to advocates for those with intellectual disability, the decision was the culmination and recognition of years of work. 

Intellectual disabilities, as defined by the Social Security Administration, is among the conditions listed in the agency’s official listing of impairments, under the section dealing with mental disorders. Those who seek Social Security disability benefits for intellectual disability must either provide sufficient evidence to meet the requirements listed in that section or otherwise obtain a medical vocation license. The latter is recognition of disability which does not require fulfillment of the specific requirements listed the listing of impairments.

Another possible avenue of compensation for those with intellectual disabilities is Supplemental Security Income. Those who are interested in determining their eligibility for either benefits program can contact either the Social Security Administration or an attorney experienced in handling such claims. Working with an attorney can be helpful in putting together a thorough application and handling any appeals. 

Source: Disabilityscoop.com, “In Shift, Supreme Court Moves Away From ‘Mental Retardation’,” Michelle Diament, June 3, 2014. 

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