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AAIDD Applauds SSA Rule Change

“Intellectual Disability” replaces “Mental Retardation” in Social Security Regulation


Washington DC (August 1, 2013)

The Social Security Administration (SSA) announced in today’s Federal Register that the term ‘‘mental retardation’’ would be replaced with ‘‘intellectual disability’’ in it's "Listing of Impairments," which is used to evaluate claims involving mental disorders in adults and children under titles II and XVI of the Social Security Act and in other appropriate sections of its regulations.

In October 2010, Congress passed Rosa’s Law, which replaced  references to ‘‘mental retardation” with ‘‘intellectual disability,’’ in federal health, education and labor laws.  As Rosa’s Law did not include titles II and XVI of the Social Security Act, the action today by SSA brings the language in its regulations and policy in line with other federal agencies.

“This action by SSA is a further meaningful step forward in assuring the dignity of people with intellectual disability,” said Dr. Margaret Nygren, Executive Director of AAIDD.

Related Resources

SSA Final Rule (published 8/1/2013)
Text of Rosa's Law (enacted 10/8/2010)

Founded in 1876, AAIDD is the oldest professional association concerned with intellectual and developmental disabilities. AAIDD advocates for the equality, dignity, and human rights of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and for their full inclusion and participation in society. Learn more about AAIDD at


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