Currently, disability social security policies require a five month waiting period for the approval and release of disability benefits to victims of ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis or Lou Gehrig's Disease). The length of the waiting period can be attributed to the sheer volume of applicants and the actual process required by the application.
Depending on where you sit in the queue, you sometimes can’t even be guaranteed that you will be approved within this waiting period. Any back payments can therefore be made past five months.
Immediacy of Need
For many citizens suffering such a disability, this amount of time may prove to be too long and perhaps, too late, especially when they are seeking treatment. For example, patients of ALS suffer from progressive symptoms, such as difficulty in walking, constantly tripping or falling and general weakening of the muscles. Eventually, they may even lose the capability of holding their head up, which affects breathing, speaking, swallowing and chewing.
While there is no treatment that can reverse the effects of ALS, there are ways to slow down the progression of ALS and improve the quality of the patient’s life. Medications, breathing care and physical therapy can help the patient maintain muscle strength for as long as possible. The concern, however, is that as much as nearly half of those with the disease may die within as few as 16 months after diagnosis.
Because of how quickly the disease tends to progress, it’s crucial that patients receive the treatment they need as soon as possible. Therefore, the length of time these patients must wait to be approved for disability benefits and receive the necessary treatment can mean the difference between life and death.
Faster Insurance Access
Besides the prolonged wait while pain and even the threat of death persist, ALS patients must confront another challenge: finances. After all, the amount of money needed for treatment cannot be easily gained. For these reasons, the ALS Association has been urging Congress to pass legislation to scrap the five month waiting period for ALS patients applying for disability social security benefits.
Under the proposed legislation, otherwise known as the ALS Disability Insurance Act of 2017, ALS sufferers who apply for SSDI will no longer have to wait for five months before they can receive benefits. In turn, this immediately qualifies them for Medicare access as well. The great thing about this bill is that it does not make any qualifications to eligibility based on the severity of their condition. As long as an applicant is afflicted with the disease, no matter its stage of development, he or she will be accommodated as quickly as possible.
The last time access to benefits was expedited for ALS patients was back in 2000, when Congress scrapped the excruciating 24 month waiting period for Medicare access. The proposed bill would therefore meliorate an agony that has lingered far too long in the eyes of ALS victims and their loved ones.
Bipartisan Support Encouraging
Better news than having the bill forwarded in Congress is the rare show of bipartisan support for it. With both Democrats and Republicans coming together in understanding the immediacy of the need to deliver SSDI benefits and Medicare access, it is the hope of all those supporting the cause of ALS that the bill will be expedited and approved.
So far, it’s been read twice and referred to the Committee on Finance. While the wait is still ongoing for ALS patients, they can at least cling to the hope that soon they will no longer have to wait months for benefits to receive the immediate treatments required for their disease.
Bill to Eliminate 5-Month SSDI Waiting Period for ALS Patients Gets Bipartisan Support, ALS News Today
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Categories: Social Security