Monday, September 17, 2007

Getting rid of the five month waiting period for Social Security Disability

The article linked below is very interesting. Senator Brown of Ohio has introduced a bill into the U.S. Senate that would eliminate the five month waiting period for individuals who are approved for disability on the basis of a terminal illness.

The bill is named "The Arthur Woolweaver Jr. Social Security Improvements For the Terminally Ill Act" and I'm assuming, based on the title, that this piece of legislation would only apply to title II (social security disability cases, not SSI) claims that have been flagged as TERI.

According to the widow of Arthur Woolweaver Jr., the five month waiting period is "discriminatory against people who have terminal illness". I'll go one step further. It's discriminatory against nearly every person who decides to file for disability.

For those who aren't aware, the five month waiting period is a means by which the federal government can skip out of paying an approved claimant their first five months of benefits. Despite being a former disability examiner for SSA, the rationale for this has never been clear to me and I can only assume (as others who have worked inside the system have likewise assumed) that the five month waiting period is the social security administration's analog to the elimination period found in private disability plans (which, typically, I believe, run six months).

However, the flaw in SSA using an "elimination period" is very clear. You see, private LTD insurers use an elimination period on the assumption that the applicant also has a short term disability policy to take care of things in the "short term", before their LTD benefits kick in. And, of course, some LTD policy holders do.

But in the case of social security disability insurance, very, very, very, very, few individuals have short term disability insurance. And, in fact, one of the great ironies of this policy is the fact that the social security administration does not even offer short term disability coverage to its own workforce.

In other words, the rationale for even having a five month waiting period is very thin. There is little true justification for it and it simply shouldn't exist, not for terminal claimants, and not for any claimants. It should simply be abolished.

Here's the link: Sen. Brown introduces bill to eliminate delay for sick

Return to the Social Security Disability SSI Benefits Blog

Disability in the Various States:

Georgia Disability
Massachusetts Disability
Illinois Disability
Indiana Disability