Congresswoman Diana Harshbarger joined U.S. Sen. Mike Lee (Utah) Monday during world recognition of Rare Disease Day in introducing The Immediate Access for the Terminally Ill Act.
This important legislation would eliminate the current five-month waiting period in the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program that prevents terminally-ill patients from having immediate access to benefits.
“The last thing Americans facing end-of-life decisions should be concerned about is dealing with Washington red tape,” said Congresswoman Harshbarger. “We need to make sure Americans facing significant hardships get help when they need it the most. I’m proud to join with Senator Mike Lee in introducing this legislation to ensure that people with terminal illnesses receive their benefits in a timely manner, while still preserving the integrity of the system.
“I greatly appreciate Senator Lee’s dedicated leadership on this important issue. This is a compassionate and fiscally responsible, good-government proposal to ensure patients with terminal illness do not have to shoulder the additional burden of fighting for benefits.”
Senator Mike Lee (UT) said: “Social Security Disability Insurance provides a financial safety net for disabled workers but requires a five-month waiting period prior to receipt of benefits. Unfortunately, for some Americans who suffer from illnesses that are clearly disabling long-term, have short life expectancies, and have no known cure, five months is simply too long. If passed, my bill could put SSDI benefits into patients’ hands sooner, relieving some of the stress associated with end-of-life care.”
The Immediate Access for the Terminally Ill Act would expedite the payment of Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits to American workers who will not live long enough to receive any benefits under the five-month waiting period in current law.
Under the legislation, individuals suffering from terminal illnesses with no known cure — and have an average life expectancy of five years or less — would have the option of immediate access to their earned monthly SSDI cash benefits, in exchange for a 7% actuarial reduction.
The legislation would help relieve some of the stress and costs associated with end-of-life care, as well as make common-sense reforms to strengthen SSDI program integrity.
The Social Security Administration (SSA) recognizes and confirms through its Compassionate Allowance List Initiative (CAL) that there are currently 33 terminal illnesses that meet the criteria of having no known cure, and having an average life expectancy of five years or less.