Monday, May 6, 2013

Exempt Disabled Combat Veterans from the 5-Month Waiting Period! Pass H.R. 1488

Pursuant to Social Security Rules, claimants who are awarded Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits (SSDI) cannot receive benefits during the first 5 months of their disability.  Social Security Disability Lawyers commonly refer to this rule as the “5-month waiting period”.  Recently, two members of Congress introduced legislation seeking to waive this 5-month waiting period for disabled veterans who are granted Social Security Disability Benefits.  This bill is known as the “Recovering Service Members Disability Benefits Act” (H.R. 1488) and was introduced by U.S. Representatives Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson (R-PA) and Dave Loebsack (D-IA).

The passage of this legislation will be extremely beneficial to Veterans who are recovering from injuries and are trying to transition to their life back home.   Last week I met with a Social Security Disability client who is recovering from physical injuries, as well as PTSD, after serving in Afghanistan.  I was shocked when I found out that he attempted to go back to work almost immediately after returning from the war.  He said that he went back to work right away because he needed to take care of the immediate financial needs of his wife and children.  I believe that his disabling condition was exacerbated by the stress of having to return back to work so quickly.

Rep. Thompson introduced the bill on the floor of the House of Representatives.  For a video of his remarks click on the link:

In addition, Rep. Loebsack, the co-sponsor of the bill, stated: “It is unacceptable for our service members who have been wounded defending our country to have to wait for benefits or face financial hardship.  Instead of worrying about if they will be getting their benefits, they should be focusing on getting better,”  He also pointed out that: "Our veterans are already waiting far too long to receive VA benefits. They should not also be subjected to delays in their Social Security benefits.  This bill honors the sacrifices our wounded service members and their families have made for our country.  We owe it to those who have put their lives on the line protecting our freedoms to ensure that they are able to quickly access the benefits they need.”

H.R. 1488 amends title II of the Social Security Act to provide that the waiting period for disability insurance benefits shall not be applicable in the case of a disabled service member recovering from an injury or illness incurred in a combat zone.

The Recovering Service Members Disability Benefits Act does not expand eligibility for SSDI benefits or automatically approve individual requests, and all of the same protections used to prevent fraud and abuse of the program remain as defined under current law.