ALS? You May Be Able to Receive SSDI Benefits More Quickly
The ALS Disability Insurance Access Act was signed into law by the President in December 2020. The law eliminates the five-month period that people with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) had to wait before receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits.
ALS Disability Insurance Access Act
The bill would amend the Social Security Act to end the required five-month waiting period for disabled workers with ALS to access benefits under the SSDI program. The Senate passed the bill on December 2, 2020. The President signed the bill into federal law on December 22, 2020.
Under the new legislation, ALS patients can skip the five-month waiting period. Gaining SSDI benefits will also give the patients quicker access to Medicare coverage.
ALS advocates had been fighting for the passage of the bill over the past few years. In September 2020, several national ALS groups sent a letter to Congress urging the bill’s passage. Individuals impacted by the condition also wrote letters and emails and met virtually and in-person with their elected officials to make their voices heard.
Five Months Too Long for ALS
The five-month waiting period may have been seemingly short, but not for a person with ALS. Firstly, ALS takes a long time to diagnose and is not reversible. There is no single scan or test to diagnose the condition. ALS often progresses rapidly. By the time people are diagnosed with the condition, they are usually already unable to work.
During that waiting period, many individuals with ALS require expensive equipment and care. The disease can cost as much as $250,000 per year. Therefore, having to wait for another five months for aid was a significant burden for patients and their family members.
The Incongruity of Expedited Approval and Five-Month Delay
Due to the condition’s rapid progression in many people, the SSA allowed for an expedited review and approval process for ALS cases under its Compassionate Allowances program. People who worked with social security attorneys to give themselves the best chance for SSDI approval and were approved within days or weeks still had to wait five months to receive their benefits despite the severity of their condition.
This incongruity of the expedited approvals and five-month benefits delay made ALS advocates keep pushing for the legislation.
This law represents a huge win for people with ALS and their families. It will help relieve the financial stresses that they too often experience.