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Higgins Announces Passage of Legislation Assisting Those with ALS in Quickly Receiving Disability Benefits

Dec 8, 2020
Press Release
Eliminates Five-month Waiting Period

Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-26), a member of the House ALS Caucus, announced passage of S. 578, the ALS Disability Insurance Access Act of 2019. The bill eliminates the five-month waiting period for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits for individuals with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig's disease.

“Requiring patients with ALS to undergo the five-month waiting period in order to access Social Security Disability benefits is an arbitrary, unnecessary barrier these patients have had to endure,” said Congressman Higgins, a cosponsor of the House companion bill H.R. 1407. “It is especially important now, during a global pandemic in which those with ALS are particularly vulnerable, that they are able to access the benefits and supports to which they are entitled.”

ALS is a progressive nervous system disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord, causing loss of muscle control. According to the ALS Association, about 5,000 Americans are diagnosed with ALS each year, and with no cure and scarce treatment options patients with ALS, on average, will live for two to five years from the time they are diagnosed.

The SSDI program provides monthly benefits to qualified disabled workers. Currently, under this program, individuals must wait five months after becoming disabled before their disability insurance benefit payments may begin. The bill assists those with ALS by removing this waiting period, so benefits may be immediately accessed.