Representatives Israel and Lujan Grisham Introduce Sanchez-Young Social Security Disability Insurance for the Terminally Ill Act

Bill Would Expedite the Receipt of SSDI Benefits for Terminally Ill Individuals

U.S. Representatives Steve Israel (NY-03) and Michelle Lujan Grisham (NM-01) introduced the Sanchez-Young Social Security Disability Insurance for the Terminally Ill Act (H.R. 2585), which would expedite the receipt of Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits for terminally ill and economically disadvantaged individuals.

The bill was introduced today, June 1, to mark the unnecessary 5-month wait that terminally ill beneficiaries have to wait before receiving benefits. If they qualify for benefits on Jan. 1, they would not receive benefits until June 1, despite their terminal illness and inability to earn an income.

“Individuals and their families struggling with a terminal illness should never be forced to wait 5-months to receive their social security disability benefits. This is not only unacceptable but puts additional strain on patients already facing incredible challenges,” said Rep. Israel. “That’s why I’m introducing legislation that would streamline the process for those with a terminal illness by eliminating the waiting period and allowing them to immediately receive the benefits they deserve.”

“The mandatory waiting period restricts those who need their benefits the most from receiving them when they are most needed,” Rep. Lujan Grisham said. “This legislation would remove this harmful barrier for individuals who are facing terminal illness or serious economic disadvantage.”

SSDI provides benefits for individuals who are unable to work due to a long-term injury or illness that is expected to last at least one year or result in death. After approval, recipients are required to wait a mandatory, 5 months after disability-onset to receive benefits. The Sanchez-Young Social Security Disability Insurance for the Terminally Ill Act would waive the 5 month waiting period for SSDI benefits for individuals who are expected to live 12 months or less.

Reps. Israel and Lujan Grisham were inspired to introduce the legislation based on constituents in their districts.

Edward and Susan Young, residents of Dix Hills, New York, contacted Rep. Israel after Susan was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer in October 2012 and given a nine-month survival prognosis. Susan had to wait five months before she could receive the Social Security Disability benefits she has paid into for more than 30 years.

“Susan Young paid into Social Security for more than 30 years, and the moment she needed the benefits, she was told it would take five months to receive them. This is wrong, and not the way we should be treating terminally ill patients. Families like the Young’s shouldn’t be burdened with unnecessary red tape during a time when they need our assistance the most,” said Rep. Israel.

Jeremy Sanchez, a native of Albuquerque, New Mexico, was diagnosed with stage IV terminal Leukemia and was quickly approved for SSDI benefits. Even though Mr. Sanchez is completely disabled and currently undergoing rigorous treatment for Leukemia, he is still required to wait 5 months before receiving any of his benefits.

“Jeremy Sanchez is an incredibly brave and selfless person, who has done everything right,” Rep. Lujan Grisham said. “He has worked hard his entire life, paid his taxes, and always cared for his family and loved ones. Yet arbitrary bureaucratic roadblocks are prevented him from receiving the disability insurance benefits when he needed them most. I am committed to make sure this doesn’t happen to anyone else.”

The legislation would also provide the Social Security Commissioner with the discretion to waive the 5 month waiting period for individuals who would experience “undue harm” if they had to wait for benefits. The Social Security Administration generally interprets “undue harm” as an inability to obtain food or shelter.

The full text of the bill is available HERE.