More than 36 disability rights groups are pleading with Congress to get rid of two oppressive waiting periods that beneficiaries of Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) must withstand at the moment. The groups submitted a letter to the leadership of both the Republican and Democratic parties in June 2020 requesting enactment of the pending bill.

The Two SSDI Waiting Periods

SSDI beneficiaries automatically qualify for Medicare. The Social Security Act, however, imposes a two-year waiting period on SSDI beneficiaries before Medicare coverage comes into force.

The second wait period that SSDI beneficiaries must endure is a five-month period from when the qualifying disability of the applicant starts to when he or she can actually start collecting disability benefits. This SSDI waiting period implies that even if the application is approved quickly, the applicant will have to wait for several months before he or she can start receiving benefits.

 In the event of delayed SSDI approval and the Social Security Administration (SSA) owes the applicant back benefits, he or she will not be reimbursed for those first five months after the start of his or her disability. An attorney for social security understands everything that SSA looks for before approving an application and can help an applicant improve his or her odds of securing approval at the first application process. The attorney also knows the common reasons that can get a disability claim denied.

Impacts of SSDI Waiting Periods  

In the June 2020 letter, the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD) stated that SSDI delay causes problems for individuals with disabilities and their loved ones. Financial constraints, lack of health insurance, and loss of housing are repercussions of this delay. The delay can also lead to death before benefit qualification starts for conditions like metastatic cancer, cardiac arrests, severe injuries, and strokes that progress quickly, CCD further states.

The Stop the Wait Act

CCD advocates for the approval of the Stop the Wait Act. This September 2019 bill seeks to revise the Social Security Act to abolish both the five-months and two-year waiting periods right away.

A narrower bill known as the ALS Disability Insurance Act, also proposed by the CCD, seeks to eliminate the five-month delay for SSDI recipients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). This February 2019 bill was passed by Congress in early December 2020 and signed into law on December 22, 2020.