medical billing statement, a stethoscope, and a calculator

People diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer (MBC) may soon access Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits and Medicare coverage faster than the current laws allow. Senator Susan Collins recently co-sponsored bipartisan legislation that would eliminate the 5-month waiting period for SSDI benefits and 24-month waiting period for eligibility for Medicare coverage for metastatic breast cancer patients.

Advantages to Metastatic Breast Cancer Patients if Legislation is Passed

When a person is diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer, the cancer will have spread from the breast to other areas of the body, such as the bones and lungs. Metastatic breast cancer is responsible for more than 90% of breast cancer deaths. The life expectancy following diagnosis is three years on average.

There is no cure for the condition, but some treatments can prevent it from worsening, improve a patient’s quality of life, and extend survival. Medical expenses tend to be higher for people with metastatic breast cancer than those diagnosed with the early stages of breast cancer.

Based on the high medical expenses, limited life expectancy of people with metastatic breast cancer, and the need for the right treatment to improve longevity and quality of life, advocates, including long-term disability claim lawyers, find it crucial for the waiting periods for getting benefits to be waived.

Congress passed a bill to qualify ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis) for Medicare coverage automatically in 2001. In 2020, it removed the SSDI 5-month waiting period for individuals with ALS. These create federal precedents for the MBC Access to Care Act, which proposes automatic SSDI benefits and Medicare coverage to also apply to qualifying metastatic breast cancer patients.

With people having metastatic cancer struggling to access the needed medical care quickly, the bipartisan legislation would allow them to get the quality medical care and support they need in a timely manner.

Current Eligibility Requirements

Metastatic breast cancer patients automatically qualify for the SSA’s disability benefits provided they meet the agency’s technical qualification regulations. When they are approved for SSDI, they have to wait for five months before starting to receive the benefits.

People below 65 with a disability other than ALS or End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) are required to have received SSDI benefits for 24 months before being eligible for Medicare. The eligibility rules also apply to people with metastatic breast cancer.