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Legislation waives the waiting period for ALS patients

By Lauryn June 21, 2021

In September 2019, legislation was introduced into the House of Representatives to eliminate the waiting period for both Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits and entitlement to Medicare coverage as the result of an SSDI award.

Currently, once benefits are approved, beneficiaries are required to wait five full calendar months from the date they are found to be disabled before receiving benefits. For example, if a beneficiary is awarded with a disability onset date of September 5, 2020, entitlement to benefits would begin in March of 2021. There is a further 24 month waiting period before becoming entitled to Medicare, and so Medicare coverage will begin in March of 2023. Originally implemented to ensure benefits were not paid to beneficiaries with only short-term disabilities, this five-month waiting period can greatly impact those with more severe conditions.

While most beneficiaries are still subject to the waiting period before they are eligible to receive benefits, there was a significant change in law enacted at the end of last year to support those living with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). This past December, former President Donald Trump signed into law a bill that eliminates the five-month waiting period for those who are diagnosed with ALS. For these patients, it is a welcome relief that may help lessen the financial and medical burdens they and their families will face as they battle this disease. For many ALS patients, the severity of the disease can increase quickly and become overwhelming. With the average survival timeline for ALS at only about two to four years, more immediate benefits and access to Medicare can be lifechanging.

With this change in law, ALS beneficiaries become eligible for SSDI benefits and Medicare coverage the month immediately following their date of disability onset. If a beneficiary living with ALS was awarded with a disability onset of September 5, 2020, eligibility for both SSDI benefits and Medicare coverage would begin in October of 2020. This is a significant achievement for ALS and motor neuron disease advocacy groups that have been pushing for change for years. With this new legislation, some of the most vulnerable beneficiaries can access much needed benefits more quickly.

The Advocator Group (now doing business as Brown & Brown Absence Services Group) has helped many individuals diagnosed with ALS receive SSDI benefits and coordinate their Medicare coverage. We consistently stay apprised of changes in laws impacting SSDI beneficiaries and are committed to keeping you informed. Contact us today to discuss how we may be able to help you.


Nothing in this post is intended as advice or a suggestion to elect or not elect to claim benefits of any kind, including Social Security benefits, nor is it intended as financial advice in any way.  The decision to claim benefits is a personal one that is contingent upon each individual’s unique circumstances.


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