Last week, Senator Bob Casey (D-PA), along with Representatives Lloyd Doggett (D-TX) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), introduced legislation to improve the health and economic security of people with disabilities—the Stop the Wait Act (S. 2496, H.R. 4386).
Currently, after waiting months to qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), most individuals with disabilities must wait an additional five months before they can begin to receive benefits, and another two years before they are eligible for Medicare coverage. Only people with End-Stage Renal Disease and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease) are excluded from the Medicare waiting period.
These delays mean that people with disabilities often cannot get the help they need, when they need it, putting them at risk of worse health outcomes and high out-of-pocket costs. The Stop the Wait Act would eliminate these dangerous waiting periods. It would require the Social Security Administration to begin payment to an individual eligible for SSDI immediately after they are determined to be eligible. It would also phase out the 24-month waiting period for Medicare disability benefits.
In 2017, more than 10,000 Americans died while waiting for SSDI benefits to begin. Medicare Rights has long advocated for improving this broken system, and we strongly support the Stop the Wait Act. People with disabilities must not be forced to wait to access needed SSDI benefits and health care coverage.