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Terminal illness and SSDI: bill would end wait for benefits

Waiting is one of the most universal of all experiences. As human beings, we all do a lot of it in one context or another.

But when someone who is eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance is facing a terminal illness, waiting for benefits is obviously very difficult. After all, the terminally ill person and his or her family should be allowed to focus on the emotional elements of coming to terms with life and death, not the financial pressures posed by various bills and debts.

That is why, for families in Southeast Michigan and across the nation, a recently proposed bill in the U.S. Congress could be so helpful. The bill is intended to do away with a five-month waiting period for SSDI benefits for people struggling with terminal illnesses.

The bill has been proposed by three U.S. senators. It is called the Expedited Disability Insurance Payments for Terminally Ill Individuals Act of 2013.

Under current law, someone who is eligible for SSDI benefits has to wait five months after a diagnosis of terminal illness before starting to receive those benefits. With very aggressive illnesses, however, the person may already have passed away before the waiting period for benefits is up.

The purpose of the proposal is therefore to speed up SSDI benefit payments to eligible people who are facing a terminal illness. 

To be sure, it is still necessary to get medical verification of the diagnosis. The proposed bill does this by requiring not one but two doctors to certify the terminal illness. And to ensure independent judgment, those two doctors cannot be practicing in the same group.

Source: Insurance Newsnet, "Senators Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Expedite Social Security Benefits for Terminally Ill," July 18, 2013

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