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Senators introduce bill expediting SSDI for terminally ill

Many people are surprised to learn that there is a five-month waiting period for Social Security Disability Insurance after being approved. However, what's unfair is that this waiting period prevents some people with terminal illnesses from ever receiving the benefits. Two members of the U.S. Senate would like to change that.

The senators have proposed a bill that would eliminate the five-month waiting period for SSDI benefits for people with terminal illnesses. One of the senators said people with terminal illnesses should not have to worry about "Washington's red tape" at the end of their lives. Instead, they should get the financial support they need.

The senator continued that the bill "strikes an important balance between helping people with terminal illnesses receive their benefits and ensuring the integrity of the system." The other co-sponsor of the bill added that it assists Americans who need it most while still helping to prevent fraud and abuse.

In order to qualify under the bill, the applicant would have to be diagnosed as "terminally ill," which is defined as having a medical prognosis that reduces life expectancy to six months or less. At least two unaffiliated physicians must certify the prognosis.

Essentially, the bill would expedite SSDI benefits for individuals who otherwise would not live long enough to receive any benefits under the five-month waiting period. However, the benefits would still be graduated, affording 50 percent of monthly benefits the first month, 75 percent the second month and 100 percent the third through twelfth month.

In order to make up for the extra benefits paid during the first five months, a pro rata share of those total benefits would be subtracted each month during the second year of payments. During the third year of payments, the recipient would receive 95 percent of their regular benefit.

It's great that lawmakers are finally addressing this issue within SSDI law. However, at this point it is uncertain whether the bill will be successful.

Source: insurancenewsnet.com, "Senators Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Expedite Social Security Benefits for Terminally Ill," July 18, 2013

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