Slepian Smith, PLLC

Bill would end SSDI waiting period for terminally ill

Normally, when the Social Security Administration approves a disabled claimant’s application for Social Security Disability Insurance, called SSDI, the claimant must wait five months for monthly benefits to begin. This can be a hardship for a person without income because of disabling impairment as the bills have likely already started to pile up.

The waiting period seems especially harsh for those claimants with terminal illnesses, who may even pass away while waiting for payments to start.

On July 25, two U.S senators introduced a bill that would, if enacted, start payments sooner for claimants with fatal diseases or injuries. Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., and Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, along with several other bipartisan co-sponsors, put forth the proposed legislation to eliminate the waiting period so that “terminally ill patients can spend their final months without the added worry of knowing if or when they’ll receive benefits,” said Brown.

For purposes of this benefit, the “terminally ill” claimant would have to have a medical impairment with a life expectancy of not more than six months. Two unaffiliated and unrelated doctors would have to certify the life expectancy.

According to a news release on Barrasso’s website, the Expedited Disability Insurance Payments for Terminally Ill Individuals Act would target financial relief to eligible SSDI recipients “who will not live long enough to receive any benefits under the five-month waiting period …”

Reduced payments would begin in month one at 50%, with 75% in month two and full benefits beginning in month three. If the person lives into the second year of benefits, they will be reduced to cover the prepaid benefits in months one through five, plus benefits in the third year and beyond would be at 95%.

The bill would sunset (end) after five years when presumably Congress could reconsider it.

Advocates for the disabled will watch the progress of this legislation with interest.

No Comments

Leave a comment
Comment Information