Jacksonville, FL (Law Firm Newswire) September 30, 2013 – A bill has been introduced in the Senate that would expedite disability benefits for the terminally ill.
The bill was introduced by two Republican Senators of Wyoming, John Barrasso and Mike Enzi, and Senator Sherrod Brown, Democrat of Ohio. The bill would eliminate the five-month wait time for terminally ill patients who are applying for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits. Terminally ill patients are defined as those who have been diagnosed with a medical condition that is expected to result in a life expectancy of six months or less.
“This bill would provide disability benefits to the terminally ill individuals who desperately need them, while still preventing potential fraud,” said Social Security disability attorney Richard D. Zasada.
The purpose of the existing five-month waiting period is to prevent fraud. The proposed legislation addresses potential abuse by mandating that the terminally ill diagnosis be provided by two separate doctors who are not related to each other and not in the same practice.
The bill stipulates that within the first month, qualified individuals will receive 50 percent of their monthly benefits, with 75 percent of monthly benefits being paid during the second month and 100 percent of monthly benefits from month three to month 12. Individuals who do live longer than one year and apply for further benefits will continue to receive them, but a share of benefits already awarded will be deducted. Individuals who live for three years or longer will receive 95 percent of their monthly benefits.
The bill has been pushed by Brian Moyer, a Wyoming man whose wife Tina died of cancer in January 2012, just 11 weeks after her initial diagnosis. Although Tina Moyer had been approved for $754 in monthly disability benefits, she did not receive them because of the five-month waiting period. Her husband received a one-time lump sum Social Security death payment of $255.
“Workers pay into the Social Security system with their taxes and they should be able to obtain their benefits if they become disabled,” said Zasada. “These benefits are especially crucial for individuals who are terminally ill.”