Some readers of this Portland Social Security Disability Law Blog may know that the Social Security Administration imposes a five-month waiting period on people before they can receive disability benefits. The SSA will not start paying people benefits until the sixth month after the date that the Administration determined that a person’s disability started in order to ensure that they are only paying benefits to those with long-term disabilities.
This waiting period can be a hardship for those who are terminally ill, as they are often struggling financially and will not live long enough to receive benefits after the waiting period. In July 2013, three U.S. Senators introduced a bill that would eliminate the waiting period for those who are terminally ill.
Under the proposed law, those who have a life expectancy of six months or fewer, confirmed by two physicians that are not in the same physician group, can begin receiving benefits immediately. They would get 50 percent of the benefits for which they are eligible in the first month, 75 percent of benefits in the second month and 100 percent of benefits in the third through twelfth months. If people do survive into a second year, then they would repay the amount of benefits that they received early on a pro rata basis.
The proposed bill addresses a very real failing in the current laws governing Social Security Disability payments. Those who are facing end-of-life decisions are the ones who need disability benefits the most. The purpose of the five month waiting period is to make sure that only those with long-term disabilities are getting benefits, but those who are terminally ill do not have the luxury of letting time pass to prove that they are disabled and cannot work.
Source: insurancenewsnet.com, “Senators Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Expedite Social Security Benefits for Terminally Ill,” July 18, 2013