Bill seeks to fast track SSD benefits for terminally ill

Last week, three U.S. lawmakers introduced a bill that, if passed, will remove the 5-month waiting period that those with terminal illnesses must currently wait when seeking Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits.

Specifically, the bill would eliminate the waiting period for anyone diagnosed as “terminally ill,” which is defined as anyone who has a life expectancy of six months or less. Furthermore, at least two independent physicians must confirm that the individual is, in fact, terminally ill before he or she would be eligible for SSDI benefits.

Also, the bill would make terminally ill individuals eligible for SSDI benefits in the first month, although at a reduced amount. For instance, the benefit payment schedule set out in the bill is as follows:

  • Month 1: 50 percent of monthly SSDI benefits
  • Month 2: 75 percent of monthly SSDI benefits
  • Month 3 through 12: 100 percent of monthly SSDI benefits
  • Year 2: Normal monthly SSDI benefits, minus a pro rata portion of the total amount of SSDI benefits paid during what would have been the initial five month waiting period.
  • Year 3: 95 percent of normal SSDI benefits for each month

According to one of the Senators who introduced the legislation, John Barrasso (R-WY), this bill, if passed, would help balance the needs of maintaining the “integrity of the system” whith those of providing assistance the terminally ill. If fact, he was quoted as saying, “When Americans are facing end of life decisions, Washington’s red tape should be the last thing on their minds.” It will be interesting to see how this important and well-intentioned bill fares while making its way through the legislature.

Source:, “Senators Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Expedite Social Security Benefits for Terminally Ill,” July 18, 2013

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