Eliminating the Waiting Period for Social Security Disability Benefits and Medicare

The Five-Month Wait Period

It is important to know when applying for Social Security Disability Benefits that after what is often a lengthy application process, if granted Social Security Disability benefits, the Social Security Administration withholds five months of an approved person’s benefits before monthly payments begin. The five-month period begins as of an approved person’s established onset date of disability, which is the date Social Security Administration determines the person met the Social Security Administration’s criteria for what it means to be disabled.

In searching for the reason for this wait period, the best answer found is that the Social Security Administration wants to be sure that the person approved benefits does not improve to the point of no longer being disabled quickly after the established onset date of disability. However, if the very definition of disability according to the Social Security Administration is “an inability to engage in substantial gainful activity by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment(s) which can be expected to result in death or which has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than twelve months,” and if the Social Security Administration conducted a rigorous review of the evidence prior to determining someone is disabled, then hasn’t the Social Security Administration already determined that the condition will either (a) result in death or (b) be disabling for at least twelve months? If the Social Security Administration really does just want to be sure that the condition remains disabling, why doesn’t the Social Security Administration release the benefits after the five-month wait period is over?

The five-month wait period is not the only confusing wait period after a person is approved Social Security Disability benefits. The Social Security Administration also requires those approved benefits to wait another two years at the end of the five-month wait period before the person can obtain health coverage through Medicare.

Stop the Wait Act

If these wait periods sound arbitrary to you, you are not alone. Recently, the Stop the Wait Act was introduced, which would eliminate the five-month wait period for benefits and additional two year wait period for Medicare. As stated by Senator Bob Casey (D-PA),

“For many individuals living with disabilities, these waiting periods can be deadly. We must eliminate this barrier to accessing necessary and often life-saving supports and ensure timely, equitable access to health care.”

Click here to read more from the press release discussing the Stop the Wait Act and here for the text of the bill.

Call Burke Law, PLLC for a Free Strategy Session

A Social Security Disability lawyer can help reduce the impact of the five-month wait period by strategically choosing the alleged onset date of disability and applying for additional benefits. If you know someone considering applying for Social Security Disability benefits, tell them to give me a call, Katelyn M. Burke, Esq., at Burke Law, PLLC.


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