Bill seeks to end SSDI waiting period for people with ALS

United States Congress
United States Congress considers expediting SSDI for people with ALS

A new bill seeks to expedite Social Security Disability Insurance payments for people with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, more commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

Currently, people deemed eligible for SSDI cannot receive payments until five months after being denied with their qualifying condition.

The ALS Disability Insurance Access Act seeks to make an exception for people with ALS. According to the ALS Association, the average person with ALS dies within 16 months of being diagnosed with the condition. There is no known cure for ALS.

“Given the prognosis for those diagnosed with ALS, it defies common sense and decency to require these same individuals to wait for benefits they have paid for and most importantly, deserve,” Rep. Peter King (R-NY), who introduced the bill with Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA)), said in a news release.

If the bill passes, it would not represent the first time that people with ALS  were granted an exemption from SSDI waiting periods. In 2000, Congress passed a bill waiving people with ALS from the standard two-year waiting period that people with SSDI must wait before becoming eligible for Medicare.

Neither of these waiting periods apply to Social Security’s other major disability program, Supplemental Security Income, which provides benefits low-income people with disabilities.

The new measure was introduced as part of the ALS Association’s Annual National ALS Advocacy Day in Washington D.C. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) introduced an identical version of the bill in the Senate.

“People with ALS, who have lost the ability to walk, talk and even breathe on their own and who currently do not have an effective treatment option, should not be forced to wait to receive benefits they deserve and have paid for,” said Barb Newhouse, president and CEO of the ALS Association, in a news release. “We applaud Senator Whitehouse and Representatives Moulton and King for their leadership in fighting for people with ALS and working to ensure they have access to the vital health and disability benefits that are so essential to everyone living with ALS and their families.”