Accessibility Support Home | FAQs for Federal Register Notice SSA 2010-0069

What is Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973?

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 prohibits discrimination against qualified individuals with disabilities. Federal agencies and organizations that receive Federal financial assistance are required to ensure that no otherwise qualified individual with a disability is, solely because of disability, excluded from participation in, denied the benefits of, or subjected to discrimination under the programs and activities they conduct.

What does Section 504 require?

Under Section 504 of Rehabilitation Act of 1973, qualified members of the public who have disabilities that prevent them from having meaningful access to a Social Security Administration (SSA) program, may request accommodations that will enable them to participate in or derive the benefits of that program.

We are required to provide accommodations that afford qualified individuals with disabilities an equal opportunity to obtain the same result, gain the same benefit, or reach the same level of achievement in our programs and activities, as an individual without disabilities.

We are not required to provide accommodations needed to produce an identical result, benefit, or level of achievement for individuals who are disabled and nondisabled.

What is the relationship between Section 504 and the American with Disabilities Act (ADA)?

The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 is sometimes confused with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), passed in 1990. While there are many parallels between the Rehabilitation Act and the ADA, there are some fundamental differences. Both laws prohibit discrimination against individuals with disabilities. However, the Rehabilitation Act covers Federal agencies and entities receiving Federal financial assistance. The ADA applies to:

  • state and local governments,
  • public accommodations,
  • commercial facilities,
  • transportation,
  • telecommunications, and
  • the U.S. Congress.

NOTE: A decision to provide a requested accommodation for an individual based on the individual's disability does not constitute an allowance for Social Security benefits or Supplemental Security Income payments, or acknowledgment of disability for administering Social Security programs.

What is the difference between Sections 504 and 508?

Under Section 504, agencies must provide individuals with disabilities meaningful access to their programs, activities, and facilities. Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act requires Federal agencies to make electronic and information technology they use, maintain, develop, or procure accessible to individuals with disabilities. If making the electronic and information technology accessible would impose an undue burden on us, we will provide individuals with disabilities the information and data in another way.

Section 508 is one method of ensuring Section 504 compliance. We conduct much of our business using technology, and our comprehensive Section 508 program helps us design and evaluate technology for accessibility.

How can I access 45 C.F.R. 85.11 so I can read it myself?

You can find 45 C.F.R. 85.11 at this link: 45 C.F.R. Part 85

How does a member of the public (who has a disability) conduct business with SSA?

We presume that individuals with disabilities are capable of doing business with us without an accommodation unless they request an accommodation. When a member of the public has a disability that prevents or limits his or her ability to participate in an agency program or activity and requires an accommodation that will enable participation, we will make every effort to meet that need. Individuals may request one or more accommodations. To request an accommodation, individuals may:

  • call our National 800 Number,
  • visit their local field office or hearing office,
  • call a field office or hearing office where they want to receive the accommodation, or
  • write to a field office or hearing office where they want to receive the accommodation.

Individuals who are blind or visually impaired may also go online to ask us to send benefit notices in an alternate format through using the current internet Special Notice Options (SNO) process.

How has SSA responded to alleged violations of Section 504 by the agency?

SSA established a discrimination complaint process to allow members of the public to file a complaint if they believe the agency has violated their rights under Section 504 (or discriminated against them based on race, sex, religion, color, national origin, age, or retaliation). The agency conducts an investigation into each complaint and issues a letter of findings to the complainant.

How can I submit a Civil Rights complaint on Section 504-related issues?

Individuals have the right at any time to file a complaint of discrimination against SSA based on disability. Individuals may file a complaint using Form SSA-437 (Discrimination Complaint Form - link provided below) or by writing a letter that includes the information requested in the form. Individuals must mail the signed form or letter to:

Social Security Administration
Civil Rights Complaint Adjudication Office
6401 Security Boulevard
Room 617 Altmeyer Building
Baltimore, MD 21235

NOTE: Individuals may file a complaint using the English version or the Spanish version of the SSA-437.

How can I contact SSA about 504-related issues?

In addition to assisting our offices, Section 504 staff is available to assist advocates, the public, and other agencies through our Toll-Free Number, 1-844-881-9061. Our business hours are Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Eastern Time (except Federal holidays).