Approximately 10 percent of the United States population speaks Spanish as a first language, and these individuals will now have access to a wider variety of Social Security Administration (SSA) services in their native tongue. The SSA recently announced additions to the popular Spanish version of their award-winning website. Users are now able to complete their applications for Social Security retirement benefits, Medicare, and Extra Help with Medicare Prescription Drug Costs online in about 15 minutes, entirely in Spanish. A variety of other Social Security publications and information, including information on the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (Title XVI) programs can also be found on the new Spanish SSA website.
Don Francisco, a popular television personality on the Univision network that targets the United States’ Spanish-speaking population, is helping to promote the website. He touts the popular feature that allows workers to estimate the amount of their Social Security retirement benefits, which is a calculator that can be found on the newly revamped site. The website will automatically pull information pertaining to past wages from Social Security records, and will allow the user to enter their predictions of their future wages. This will result in what should be a fairly-accurate estimate of the amount that can be expected in retirement benefits, and can be very helpful when workers are considering at what age retirement should be taken.
Although the entire front page of the Social Security Administration’s website is available in Spanish, some areas, such as the application for Social Security Disability benefits, are only available in English at this point (these links are denoted by an asterisk on the homepage.) In the future the SSA may aim to provide all of the English services in Spanish as well.
Those who speak languages including French, Greek, Italian, Polish, Korean, Vietnamese, Arabic, Tagalog, Russian, Portegeause, Farsi, and Haitan-Creole can also visit Social Security’s multi-language version of the SSA website to access much of the online functionality available to English speakers. Although benefit applications aren’t yet available in these languages, a wide variety of Social Security publications can be viewed in each language.
The Social Security Administration has long been a leader in the Federal government in terms of making their services accessible to non-English speakers. We are hopeful that other agencies will follow their lead in making information accessible to the increasing Spanish-speaking population of the United States, as well as speakers of other languages.