Congress is a strange institution. It can be outraged by its own actions. And few programs embody that contradictory impulse better than the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program. A program that provides income to those who cannot work due to serious medical conditions, it has over the years, grown to be very expensive.

Its growth is not surprising nor, sadly, even unexpected. In part, it growth is a result of disabled workers have few other options. Most workers do not have long-term disability insurance, because such private insurance is tremendously costly and because many businesses have never offered much in the way of benefits. Some do not even receive paid sick time.

 

So it is hardly shocking that someone who has a terminal condition, and who may only be expected to live six months still has to wait to receive SSD. Congress, you see, demanded that five-month waiting period be added to the law, to deter those with a short-term disability from attempting to apply for benefits.

In the case of the terminally ill, it makes no sense, and those who have been diagnosed are unlikely to be “faking.” Some in Congress are working to change this absurd requirement, but a previous bill went nowhere.

With Congress facing a shortfall in funding for SSDI in the next year or so, it is unlikely that it will act to remedy this problem, as politicians battle to overhaul the entire program. With the current polarization of the legislative body, it is difficult to see how any compromise will be obtained, and many will likely die before they ever receive a single payment.

Source: Cleveland.com, “If you’re terminally ill, you still must wait for Social Security benefits,” Stephen Koff, September 9, 2015