WASHINGTON – The ALS Social Security Disability Insurance Access Act, introduced by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse and Senator Tom Cotton and signed into law in December, eliminated the five-month waiting period for Social Security disability benefits for those with medically-diagnosed ALS, because due to the quick and devastating effects of the disease many of those diagnosed do not have five months to wait.
Due to how the Social Security Administration interpreted this law, ALS patients who had already applied for the disability benefits they are entitled to were still being forced to wait the five months. Senator Braun, who co-founded the bipartisan Senate ALS Caucus with Senator Chris Coons, introduced a bill to clarify this issue, which passed the Senate tonight.
“The financial burden of ALS is staggering, and those who are diagnosed have no time to waste,” said Senator Braun. “With this technical fix, which is expected to be signed into law, we will ensure timely access to Social Security disability benefits is available to ALS patients and the ALS Social Security Disability Insurance Access Act fulfills its promise to help those fighting this terrible disease.”
“With this technical fix to the law, we’ll finally ensure that ALS patients get the timely financial support they need,” said Senator Coons. “Speedy access to support programs like SSDI after a diagnosis is essential for patients and their families – and one of the priorities we set when we first launched the bipartisan ALS caucus last year. We must continue to improve the law to make life easier for ALS patients and their loved ones.”
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, commonly known as ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease, is a neurodegenerative disease affecting the ability of the brain to control muscle movements. Individuals with ALS progressively lose the ability to speak, walk, and breathe. There is no effective treatment for the disease, no known cause, and—currently—no cure.
ABOUT THE SENATE ALS CAUCUS:
The Senate ALS Caucus founded in January 2020 by Senators Chris Coons, D-Delaware, and Mike Braun, R-Indiana. The Caucus brings together senators from both sides of the aisle who share a commitment to working collaboratively to advocate on behalf of ALS patients and their families to: raise awareness about the difficulties faced by ALS patients and their families; advance policies that improve the quality of life for ALS patients; expand the network of support for those suffering from ALS; and advocate for investments in research that will enhance our understanding of the causes of ALS, identify effective treatments, and eventually discover a cure.
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