Sherrod Brown legislation to expedite benefits for the terminally ill

By Frank Lewis

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When someone is terminally ill, they should be able to concentrate on their health care instead of dealing with the red tape of government procedures. That’s the thought behind bipartisan legislation introduced by U.S. Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and John Barrasso (R-WY); legislation to expedite the payment of Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits to individuals with terminal illnesses by eliminating the five-month waiting period.

“When Americans face terminal illness, they should be able to focus on their health instead of how they’ll pay the bills,” Brown said. “Social Security Disability Insurance is a lifeline for individuals who can’t work because they are too sick. This bill would ensure that terminally ill patients can spend their final months without the added worry of knowing if or when they’ll receive benefits.”

The Expedited Disability Insurance Payments for Terminally Ill Individuals Act of 2015 would expedite the payment of SSDI benefits to individuals who will not live long enough to receive any benefits under the five-month waiting period in existing law. Under the legislation, eligible individuals would begin receiving benefits in the first month.

The bill would eliminate the five-month waiting period for any person diagnosed to be terminally ill, allowing them to receive benefits in the first month of their diagnosis. For the purposes of this legislation, “terminally ill” is defined as a person that has a medical prognosis that his or her life expectancy is six months or less, as independently certified by at least two physicians.

The bill would also require a yearly report from the commissioner and the inspector general of the Social Security Administration on the number of people applying for and receiving the expedited SSDI benefits, as well as the costs of administering it.

Here is the breakdown of the benefit payment:

  • First month: 50 percent of monthly benefits
  • Second month: 75 percent of monthly benefits
  • Third-twelfth months: 100 percent of monthly benefits
  • Year Two: The benefit amount for each month is the regular monthly benefit minus a pro rata share of the total amount of benefits paid during what would otherwise be the five-month waiting period.
  • Year Three and beyond: The benefit amount for each month is 95 percent of the regular benefit.

Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.