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Social Security Mailbox

Social Security in Other Languages

Translators and publications offer help for people who don’t speak English

En Español| Q. What does Social Security do to help people who want to apply for benefits but don't speak English very well?

A. The Social Security Administration actually does a great deal for people who have what's called "Limited English Proficiency," or LEP for short. The agency prints its basic publications in 15 other languages.

In addition, many employees who work in Social Security offices around the country are bilingual, and Social Security frequently hires translators. The agency says the goal is to ensure "that individuals have access to our programs and services regardless of their ability to communicate in English."

The LEP program at Social Security is only one piece in a much broader federal effort to make sure that lack of English proficiency does not deprive people of their rights to federal benefits or resources. You can learn more at the centralized interagency website, LEP.gov. The basic authority for these efforts comes from the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and other orders and regulations.

In addition to English, Social Security prints its publications in the following 15 languages: Arabic, Vietnamese, Tagalog, Russian, Spanish, Armenian, Chinese, Farsi, French, Greek, Haitian-Creole, Italian, Korean, Polish and Portuguese.

The administration's website offers translated Social Security publications in all of these languages.

Stan Hinden, a former columnist for The Washington Post, wrote How to Retire Happy: The 12 Most Important Decisions You Must Make Before You Retire. Have a question for the Social Security Mailbox? Check out the archive. If you don't find your answer there, send a query.

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Social Security expert Jonathan Peterson talks about his new book Social Security for Dummies.

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