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In 2017, More Than 10,000 Americans Died While Waiting

Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA), Ranking Member of the Senate Special Committee on Aging, along with U.S. Representative Lloyd Doggett (D-TX-35), Chair of the House Ways and Means Health Subcommittee and House Budget Committee Member and U.S. Representative Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA-01) introduced the Stop the Wait Act. After waiting months to qualify for coverage through Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), individuals with disabilities are forced to wait another five months to get a disability check and another two years to obtain health coverage through Medicare. The Stop the Wait Act would eliminate these dangerous, mandated waiting periods imposed on individuals with disabilities that harm their health by delaying critical health care.

“Workers who have paid into the Social Security Disability Insurance fund should not be denied their benefits at the time they need them most,” said Senator Casey. “For many individuals living with disabilities, these waiting periods can be deadly. We must eliminate this barrier to accessing necessary and often life-saving supports and ensure timely, equitable access to health care.”

“For individuals with disabilities, the security that Social Security was intended to provide comes at a punishing and unnecessary cost: two full years without health insurance,” said Congressman Doggett. “Our effort eliminates these suffering periods—affording individuals with disabilities prompt access to Medicare.”

“Individuals with disabilities should not face an onerous waiting period for the Social Security benefits they earned,” said Congressman Fitzpatrick. “Improving access to health care is vitally important, and I am proud to support this bipartisan legislation to give Americans the care they need in a proper time frame.”

“Social Security Disability Insurance is a lifeline for individuals who can’t work because they are too sick,” said Senator Brown. “This legislation eliminates unnecessary red tape that leads to gaps in healthcare coverage, and ensures Americans don’t lose access to the benefits they have earned.”

In 2017, more than 10,000 American died while waiting for SSDI benefits to begin. The wait times greatly affect adults with rapidly progressing diseases such as Huntingdon’s Disease, cancer, cystic fibrosis and other conditions.

American workers who have developed a disability may be eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), a benefit financed by employee/employer payroll taxes. SSDI requires an application and determination period that can last more than 18 months, as well as mandated five months to obtain a disability payment, and then an additionally-mandated 24 months to receive Medicare benefits. The Stop the Wait Act aims to remove these unnecessary and onerous requirements by:

  • Requiring the Social Security Administration to begin payment to an individual eligible for SSDI immediately after they are determined to be eligible for the program, rather than requiring the individual to wait five months to begin receiving benefits.
  • Phasing out the 24-month waiting period for Medicare disability benefits.
  • Directing the National Academy of Medicine to conduct a study to ensure the elimination of the waiting periods are resulting in better health and community living outcomes for eligible SSDI recipients and their families. 

This legislation is endorsed by a number of patient advocacy groups and other organizations, including: The Arc of the United States, Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN), Center for Medicare Advocacy, Families USA, Justice in Aging, Medicare Rights Center, National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare (NCPSSM), National Association of Council on Developmental Disabilities (NACDD), National Association of Disability Representatives (NADR), National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), The National Council, National Council on Independent Living (NCIL), National Disability Institute (NDI), National Organization of Social Security Claimants’ Representatives (NOSSCR), Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA), the Social Security Task Force of the Consortium of Citizens for Disabilities (CCD), Strengthen Social Security Coalition, and Social Security Works.