According to Senator Barrasso, "The last thing Americans facing end-of-life decisions should be concerned with is navigating Washington red tape. We need to make sure Americans and their loved ones facing significant hardships get help when they need it the most. Our bipartisan bill will ensure people with terminal illnesses receive disability benefits in a timely manner while still preserving the integrity of the system. Senator Brown made a remark to say, “When Americans face terminal illness, they should be able to focus on their health instead of how they'll pay the bills. 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." In addition to Barrasso and Brown, the bill is also co-sponsored by Senators Susan Collins from Maine, Maggie Hassan from New Hampshire, Cynthia Lummis from Wyoming, Chris Coons from Delaware, Lisa Murkowski from Arkansas, Patrick Leahy from Vermont, Jeff Merkley from Oregon, and Jack Reed from Rhode Island. The Expedited Disability Insurance Payments for Terminally Ill Individuals Act expedites the payment of SSDI benefits to individuals who are unlikely to live long enough to receive any benefits under the current five-month waiting period. Under the legislation, eligible individuals begin receiving benefits in the first month. A breakdown of these benefit payments is as follows:
* 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.
So how exactly do SSDI recipients qualify for Expedited Payments? The bill essentially eliminates the five-month waiting period for any person deemed terminally ill. Terminally ill is defined as a medical prognosis of six months or less in life expectancy. To prevent fraud and abuse, at least two physicians, who are unrelated and not in the same physician group practice, must certify the individual is terminally ill. The bill also requires an annual 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. After four years, the bill requires a report by the Government Accountability Office evaluating the changes to the SSDI program and providing recommendations on ways to improve upon it. The bill sunsets these benefit changes after five years on January 1st, 2028, giving Congress time to review and potentially reauthorize these changes to the program.