New Legislation Proposed that Relaxes the SSDI Process
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits are intended to provide compensation for individuals who suffer a long-term disability and, as a result, are unable to continue working. The Social Security Administration (SSA) imposes stringent requirements to qualify for benefits, so the services of an attorney experienced in handling SSDI applications can be a crucial factor between approval and denial. One requirement of the SSDI process that can be particularly frustrating for applicants are the waiting periods recipients must satisfy before benefits will be paid. To combat this, Senator Bernie Sanders has offered Social Security legislation aimed at relieving the burden of waiting periods place on the disabled. A discussion of the bill, titled the Social Security Administration Fairness Act, and how it may affect these waiting periods, as well as description of the two main waiting periods all recipients must pass through, will follow below.
The Social Security Administration Fairness Act
Senator Sanders’s bill is intended to address the long wait times those applying for SSDI disability benefits must endure before receiving SSDI benefit payments. Specifically, this bill would eliminate the five-month waiting period approved SSDI applicants approved for SSDI benefits must complete before becoming eligible for benefits. Additionally, Senator Sanders’s bill will also eliminate the two-year waiting period that SSDI beneficiaries must wait to qualify for Medicare, the health insurance program SSDI recipients may use for medical issues.
First Waiting Period
As alluded to above, the first waiting period represents the time between the date of disability onset and the date in which that applicant receives his/her first SSDI benefit payment. This waiting period is very similar to the elimination period that is offered from typical private insurance policies. Note that due to the long stretches of times it takes to get approval for most applicants, this five-month waiting period is routinely satisfied long before approval is granted. In fact, most successful SSDI applicants are eligible for back payments starting in the sixth month after the disability began to the time the disability claim is approved.
Second Waiting Period
The second waiting period, as alluded to above, concerns a wait for successful SSDI applicants before they can qualify for concurrent Medicare benefits. According to Senator Sanders, eliminating this waiting period will speed up the time it takes for senior SSDI beneficiary recipients to receive both SSDI and Medicare benefits. In reality, however, the majority of such individuals do not actually have to wait the full two years after being approved for SSDI benefits for their Medicare benefits to kick in. This is because the two-year wait starts from the time an individual is, in fact, eligible for SSDI benefits (disability onset date + five-month waiting period). Usually, this is a date that is in the past and, as a result, the two-year wait is often served, in part, during the pending application period, though only the preceding 17 months from the date the SSDI application is filed will be considered for payment eligibility and Medicaid purposes. This two-year waiting period is part of a cost savings measure by the SSA< so without federal legislation saying otherwise, this policy is unlikely to change.
If you are contemplating filing an SSDI application, or have already begun the application process, and are curious about what you can expect from the process, contact an experienced SSDI benefits attorney as soon as possible. The legal team at Farrell Disability Law has the experience necessary to analyze your potential claim, and, if we believe you will be successful, will help you develop a strategy, and help navigate your application through the SSDI process. Contact our Jacksonville office today.