If you or someone you love is struggling with Lou Gehrig’s disease, then you may appreciate this good news. On January 20, 2021, news was released that ALS patients would be able to get quicker access to Medicare and disability benefits than in the past.
The patients will no longer have a five-month waiting period that used to be required of ALS patients following their diagnoses. This is beneficial, since many people who are getting diagnosed are already struggling to work or have had to quit.
With job loss, disability benefits are vital
When someone has ALS, it’s likely that they will need to quit their jobs. Sometimes, they aren’t the only ones. Their adult children or spouses may need to stop working to become caregivers instead.
This can leave families in financial distress, which is why it was so important to have the five-month waiting period released. Though this has been approved, it will still take time for the Social Security Administration to set up its own procedures to implement the law.
The bill was supported by several associations and groups including The Muscular Dystrophy Association. Their combined goal was to eliminate the Social Security Disability Insurance waiting period, so patients and their families could get Medicare and financial support sooner to avoid financial devastation.
This single piece of legislation may branch off to help others as well. Senator Mike Lee from Utah stated that he would want to see the legislation include other conditions and pledged to continue working on it. He suggested using a similar process for illnesses with a life expectancy of under five years and no known cure.
Eliminating the waiting period matters for rapid illnesses
Rapid illnesses, like ALS, usually take lives within 10 years or less time. Getting benefits sooner is essential in those cases. The SSDI waiting period was designed to work as a gatekeeper, so that only those with illnesses lasting a year or longer would be served. This, some believe, no longer matters, since disability benefit roles have changed to require a condition to keep someone out of work for a year or to be terminal in nature.