The Americans with Disabilities Act passed in 1990. Though that may sound like a long time ago, it’s still well within living memory. The ADA was designed to make it possible for more people to fully participate in life. Before its passage, businesses and public entities in states like North Carolina didn’t have to make themselves accessible to differently abled people. Sadly, even today, some government entities make it hard for disabled people to get services they’re entitled to. One is the Social Security Administration.
The wet signature requirement
In 2020, it’s very possible to e-sign documents. These signatures are as legally binding as a wet signature made in ink on paper. Government agencies including the IRS, the VA and HUD all make it possible to sign legally binding documents online. That’s in accordance with several laws, including the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 and the Administrative Procedure Act. However, the SSA still anachronistically requires a wet signature.
Some organizations that work with disabled people have brought lawsuits against the SSA over this issue. People who are blind, paralyzed or have other physical limitations may not be able to make a wet signature without aid. What’s more, the processing time on their paperwork is longer due to transit time via the mail. It’s unconscionable to many advocates that needy people’s Social Security Disability payments are delayed this way.
Luckily, attorneys working for organizations like the United Spinal Association and the National Federation for the Blind have brought lawsuits to rectify this. Some of these have been successful in achieving temporary elimination of the wet signature policy. Now, the goal is to remove it permanently.