New law speeds benefits for people with ALS

Times have been tough for everyone lately, and a lot of people feel like the federal government has not been a big help. That goes double for people with disabilities.

Fortunately, there has been some good news on this front. A new law is set to make it easier for people with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis to get Social Security Disability benefits.

Official waiting period

The ALS Disability Insurance Access Act gets rid of a five month waiting period for people with ALS.

For most types of illnesses, injuries and conditions, people applying for Social Security Disability Insurance must wait five months before they can begin collecting benefits. This waiting period is particularly troublesome for people with ALS because the condition is difficult to diagnose, progresses quickly and is irreversible. The new law should make it easier for ALS patients to collect benefits for the early months of their disability.

Unofficial waiting period

For most applicants, the sad truth is that the five month period is just the beginning of the wait. Applications for Social Security Disability benefits frequently take much longer than five months, and often take up to two years. Initial applications are often rejected, which means applicants must try again, and often must argue their case in a hearing.

When, or if, the applicant is successful, the Social Security Administration pays benefits retroactively to cover some of that waiting period, but for most conditions it does not cover the first six months of the applicant’s disability.

You don’t have to do it alone

Applying for Social Security Disability benefits is a hard, time-consuming and often frustrating endeavor. You don’t have to do it all alone. A lawyer can help applicants at many points in the process, from advising them on gathering documents, to filling out paperwork, to representing them at hearings and beyond.