People in North Jersey who have not applied for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits before may not know that there is a five-month waiting period before payments begin, starting from the date of application. Once approved, recipients get retroactive payments for the time the approval process took beyond five months, but only to six months after the disability began.

With the application process generally taking over six months, and often more than two years if an appeal is necessary, gaps in benefits can form. The theory is that many disabling conditions are temporary and reversible. But there are some conditions for which this strategy makes no sense and can even lead to cruel results.

ALS and the SSD waiting period

For example, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, tends to take a long time to diagnose. There is no cure or way to reverse the effects, which are always fatal. Until recently, if someone with ALS applied for SSD, by the time they were approved, they might miss out on a large chunk of the benefits to which they are entitled. Meanwhile, they and their families must find a way to afford expensive medical equipment and doctors’ bills.

A compassionate change to the law

Fortunately, Congress has taken action. A new law eliminates the waiting period for people approved for SSD due to ALS, making the process the same for SSD as it already was for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Medicaid. This can help make sure ALS patients get their full awarded benefits as soon as possible.

There are many rules and regulations controlling SSD. Trying to navigate the system yourself can be frustrating and lead to a mistake. An attorney who practices SSD law can help.