Of all the devastating diseases, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, is among the worst. This pernicious condition destroys the body's motor neurons. The result is that patients lose control of their muscles. It eventually affects the whole body, including the ability to breathe. Most people with ALS will die within
two to five years. Sadly, at present, there is no cure.
Approval For Social Security Benefits Not The End Of The Battle
ALS is one of the few automatics for Social Security disability. That means, if you are unfortunate enough to get this diagnosis, Social Security will approve you immediately. But, getting approved is only part of the battle. For people faced with a rapidly progressing and terminal disease, the delays in getting Medicare and other benefits can be overwhelming.
Two Harmful Delays Eliminated
A new law eliminates both the five-month waiting period for benefits and the two-year delay in getting Medicare coverage. The latter change is likely the more important. Many ALS sufferers have poor or even no health insurance when doctors give them the fatal news. Waiting two years to get health insurance that will help ALS patients get the treatment they need makes no sense. Many of these poor souls would die before getting their Medicare card.
Don't Stop Now, Congress
There is talk of Congress applying these changes to other terminal conditions. It is fair to have this apply equally to all Americans facing an end-of-life illness. Let's hope that Congress does the right thing in this regard.