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New bills may smooth way for SSDI for ALS patients

Anyone who suffers from or knows someone with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis understands the terrible burdens the disease places on those who are afflicted. Also known as 'Lou Gehrig's' Disease,' after the famous New York Yankees baseball player who had the condition, this degenerative disease involves the nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord and generally causes the patient to lose muscular control. There is no current treatment or cure for the disease.

Because this dreaded disease also acts fairly quickly with almost 50 percent dying with 16 months of having been diagnosed, time is of the essence in the cases of people with ALS. While the Social Security Administration recognizes that a diagnosis of ALS will mean a person is disabled, due to federal law, these individuals' applications for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits generally require a waiting period of five months before those benefits can be received. Coupled with the fact that Medicare benefits are reliant on the receipt of SSDI benefits in most cases, this can create hardships for ALS patients.

Some members of the U.S. Congress are attempting to remedy this. On February 16th, bills were introduced in both the Senate and the House of Representatives in an attempt to remedy this situation for sufferers of ALS. The ALS Disability Insurance Access Act, if passed and signed into law by the president, would waive the five-month waiting period for SSDI benefits for those whose applications are based upon a diagnosis of ALS. With both bills being sponsored by members of both parties, it is hoped that the legislation will be relatively non-controversial.

New Jersey residents who cannot work due to a disability should understand that filing for benefits may be a long process. Hopefully, with new laws such as this proposed legislation, at least some applicants for social security disability for illness will find that their needed benefits can come more quickly.

Source:, "Moulton, King continue fight for ALS patients," Feb. 20, 2017

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