US Senate passes bill to ease access to disability benefits for ALS patients

Disability benefits for ALS - man in wheel chair

This could make it easier for people with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis to use the coverage.

The United States Senate recently passed a bill with the potential to make it easier for disability benefits for ALS patients to become accessible.

The proposed legislation is called the ALS Disability Insurance Access Act of 2019.

The U.S. House of Representatives must still approve the ALS Disability Insurance Access Act of 2019 in order for it to move forward. That said, if the bill is enacted, it would take away the current mandatory five-month waiting period that medically determined ALS must undergo before they qualify to receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). The bill for disability benefits for ALS patients was first introduced by the Senate ALS Caucus members, Sheldon Whitehouse (D-Rhode Island) and Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas).

“Americans [living with] ALS shouldn’t have to wait for assistance … and now they won’t have to. By waiving the statutory disability benefits waiting period, our bill makes support available to those suffering from this terrible disease much faster,” said Cotton in a press release. “I’m grateful to my Senate colleagues for supporting this important legislation, and I strongly urge the House to do the same.”

The legislation would open up disability benefits for ALS patients without the five-month wait.

The reason for today’s mandatory five-month waiting period before ALS patients can benefit from SSDI is to make it possible for temporary conditions to reverse themselves. However, as this disease does not currently have any treatments to stop its progression, many people with ALS risk dying before they become eligible for SSDI benefits. The goal of the bill is to reduce some of the financial struggles that arrive alongside a diagnosis of ALS.

“Over the course of a five-month waiting period, many people living with ALS will experience serious loss of ability and will have incurred significant expenses for care and treatment,” said The ALS Association president and CEO Calaneet Balas. “They urgently need support.”

Disability benefits for ALS - man in wheel chairPassing the disability benefits for ALS patients’ legislation has been a considerable priority for the Senate ALS Caucus, which was first created this year.

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