This week, Medicare Rights joined over 20 nonprofit and advocacy organizations in the launch of a new coalition, Stop the Wait. The group is dedicated to eliminating harmful Medicare and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) coverage gaps.
Currently, after waiting an average of 18 months to qualify for SSDI, most individuals with disabilities must wait an additional five months before they can begin to receive payments, and then another two years before they can access Medicare. These harmful policies can prevent people with disabilities from obtaining needed care and force them to spend down their financial resources—eroding health and economic security.
As the coalition notes in an open letter to Congress, “For the Government to decide that people are eligible for SSDI, their income would have already fallen below the poverty line; to impose these additional exclusion periods is to force them to be impoverished while battling horrific chronic illness and disease.”
According to the U.S. Government Accountability Office, in the last ten years nearly 110,000 Americans died while waiting for SSDI benefits; approximately 50,000 people filed for bankruptcy in half that time.
Medicare Rights has long advocated for improvements to this broken system. In the last Congress, we strongly supported legislation to eliminate the waiting periods. We are hopeful for its reintroduction and urge administrative solutions as well. People with disabilities must not be forced to wait to access their earned benefits. We look forward to working with policymakers and our coalition partners to advance this goal.
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