Even when Social Security does approve people for disability, a few unpleasant surprises await. One is that Social Security does not pay benefits for the first five months of a person's disability. In addition, a person has to be disabled for 24 months before becoming eligible for Medicare. The 24 month countdown begins after the 5-month waiting period expires. A person who was just found disabled, thus, could have to wait for 5 full months to see any money. That person could also be looking at 29 months before getting Medicare.
Just Can't Wait
If you have a disease that progresses very rapidly, such wait times might mean you never get any benefit at all from Social Security. Even if your disabling condition is chronic, you might have to wait almost two and a half years to get Medicare and start seeing doctors who can assist. This setup is a poor one that does more harm than good.
To Change What I Can
Fortunately, a group of members of Congress is trying to change that. Senators Brown of Ohio and Casey of Pennsylvania have introduced a bill that would eliminate the 5-month waiting period. The proposed legislation would phase out the 24-month time frame for the disabled to get Medicare. This is such a good idea that it is probably doomed. Congress can find all the money in the world for idiotic boondoggles all around the world. But, when it comes time to aid disabled Americans, the bank account is empty.
A Fool's Errand?
While it is likely a fool's errand, contact your Senator and ask him or her to support this bill. All the following organizations are behind it:
The Arc of the United States, Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN), Center for Medicare Advocacy, Families USA, Justice in Aging, Medicare Rights Center, National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare (NCPSSM), National Association of Council on Developmental Disabilities (NACDD), National Association of Disability Representatives (NADR), National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), The National Council, National Council on Independent Living (NCIL), National Disability Institute (NDI), National Organization of Social Security Claimants' Representatives (NOSSCR), Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA), the Social Security Task Force of the Consortium of Citizens for Disabilities (CCD), Strengthen Social Security Coalition, and Social Security Works.