SSDI Waiting Periods

Proposed Changes to Five (5) Month Waiting Period for SSDI Benefits for Terminally Claimant's

Senator Mike Enzi, a Republican in Wyoming, and Democrat, Sherrod Brown, of Ohio, have introduced a Bill to expedite the payment of SSDI benefits to terminally ill individuals by eliminating the five (5) month waiting period.  The legislation, commonly referred to as S. 1311, has been referred to the Senate Finance Committee for consideration.  

In all Social Security disability cases currently, no matter what the medical diagnosis of the claimant, the individuals must wait five (5) months before receiving benefits under the Act.  This rule is particularly harsh for those who are terminally ill in that they may never receive benefits from the Social Security Administration.  

In the past, we have represented clients that have had these types of disabilities, such as cancer and leukemia who have paid into the Social Security system over a number of years and due to the five (5) month waiting period receive no benefits whatsoever from the Federal Government.  

Also, in cases where an individual has filed for disability benefits and has received an award of Social Security disability, they must wait for two (2) years from their entitlement  date to reach Medicare eligibility.  This, like the five (5) month waiting period, acts as an unreasonable hardship on terminally ill individuals.  Unfortunately, the only two recognized exceptions to this rule has been for those claimant's who are undergoing kidney failure or have been diagnosed with ALS.

I think it would be reasonable to expand those individuals who are immediately entitled to Medicare coverage to all terminally ill individuals by eliminating the two (2) year waiting period for Medicare so that not only would the individuals be entitled to get paid benefits under the Social Security Act, that they may have some insurance coverage, via Medicare, to pay for their astronomical medical expenses.

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