The Plain Writing Act and Social Security Disability Forms

In 2010, The Plain Writing Act was passed, which requires all federal agencies to communicate with the public in a clear and simple manner. Many federal agencies tend to create their own professional jargon, acronyms, abbreviations, and procedures for communication. Their manner of communication is not always clear to those outside of those agencies.

Each federal agency may have different communication techniques that they have to consolidate when working together to share information. All federal agencies, including the Social Security Administration, are mandated to maintain clear communication procedures and techniques for the public. Accordingly, “The purpose of this Act is to improve the effectiveness and accountability of Federal agencies to the public by promoting clear Government communication that the public can understand and use.” This mission statement leads to the question, why is it so hard to understand the letters received by SSA?

According to the SSA 2019 Plain Writing Compliance Report, their improvements have been focused on their published writings online and in newsletters that are available to the general public. However, it does not seem that the letters sent out by SSA are on the list of revisions to comply with this Act.  SSA welcomes feedback from the public regarding unclear forms and notices. These concerns can be reported to them by email at Whether or not SSA revises any social security disability forms or letters, we are always ready to help our clients understand what SSA has sent and explain what that means for their case.