Slepian Smith, PLLC

Proposed bill would eliminate waiting periods for SSDI, Medicare

Currently, when the Social Security Administration approves a claimant’s application for Social Security Disability Insurance, called SSDI, the monthly benefit payments begin in the sixth month after disability started. In addition, an approved claimant becomes eligible for Medicare coverage after getting SSDI for 24 months.

Claimants with Lou Gehrig’s disease, kidney failure or a kidney transplant may be eligible for Medicare much sooner.

These waiting periods can be difficult for disabled claimants. They typically are very ill or have suffered serious injury, preventing them from working. So, not only are they unable to earn income, but also may find themselves unable to pay their bills. Often, they also have lost health insurance and may not be able to afford COBRA or a new private policy, at a time when they have been found to be medically disabled and need comprehensive health care.

Proposed legislation to help with waiting periods

This summer, we told readers about a bill introduced in Congress that would eliminate the five-month waiting period for claimants with terminal illnesses, allowing them to receive reduced benefits immediately upon approval, with full benefits in the third month. As of the date of this writing, the Expedited Disability Insurance Payment for Terminally Ill Individuals Act has been introduced in both the House and Senate. It has been referred to the House Subcommittee on Social Security.

Now, another proposed law would eliminate both the five-month waiting period for payments to begin as well as the 24-month waiting period for Medicare coverage. Sponsors introduced the Stop the Wait Act in September in both houses of Congress. The House referred it to three committees.

The five-month wait for SSDI payments would be eliminated and the 24-month Medicare waiting period would be phased out, with full elimination beginning in 2029.

We will monitor these bills and keep our readers up to date.

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