Monday, March 31, 2008

Revising Social Security Disability Laws to Benefit Those with MS

I received a request from Stuart of Stu's Views and MS-Related News to post the following message. I believe this is an important issue for those of us with MS whether we anticipate needing the protections of Social Security Disability Laws in the near future or not.


A Message from Bob - Concerning Social Security Reform
( Bob is the gentleman who has been trying to help all in need of Social Security reform) See a previous article of what he has been doing:
August 27, '07: Fighting for disability rights in America
Hi Stuart:
Could you post this?
Please consider sending a quick email to your senators by cutting and pasting the following:

Dear Senator ___________: (Find your senators at )

During the past year, Stu's Views and M.S. Related News has helped gather over 6,000 signatures from individuals afflicted with multiple sclerosis, as well as from physicians, hospital administrators, pharmaceutical company executives, celebrities, social security administration and other federal employees, as well as major chronic illness advocacy organizations, including United Spinal, the Multiple Sclerosis Foundation and several others, to revise our nation's Social Security Disability programs to more adequately address the unique circumstances and challenges of MS victims.

Recent testimony before congress included recommendations to eliminate the five-year limitation on "expedited reinstatement" for disability recipients with serious chronically disabling conditions, such as MS, who desire to attempt to return to work should their condition permit. This is extremely important as no one can predict the severity and course of a disease such as MS.

Many individuals who receive SSI/SSDI would welcome the opportunity to resume working if they knew that federal assistance would resume expediently should their condition worsen in the future. Under the current program, automatic resumption of benefits only continues within five years of disability approval. Beyond that timeframe, individuals who do return to work and then get ill again must apply for SSDI/SSI all over again. This is unfairly restrictive for those who suffer from MS and other chronic illnesses.

A formal presentation made to the House Ways and Means Committee by Terry Moakley, Vice President for Public Affairs of the United Spinal Association to the House Ways and Means Committee on January 16, 2008 included a key recommendation to eliminate the five-year limitation for expedited reinstatement of disability benefits for chronically disabled individuals who desire to work as they are able, without jeopardizing their benefits should their condition worsen in the future.

The following excerpt of the testimony specifically addresses a key area of necessary reform...
Allow ongoing presumptive re-entitlement for those able to work, but who have continuing disabilities – Continued Attachment. (Title II and SSI). We recommend that Title II and SSI disability beneficiaries have a “continued attachment” to the programs as long as their impairments last, even if they do not receive cash benefits because of their work earnings. Beneficiaries of the programs who are sometimes able and other times unable to be employed should have continued attachment to the cash and medical benefits that can be activated with a simple and expedited procedure that is as “seamless” as possible. Many beneficiaries fear working to their full potential because it might cause a permanent loss of cash and/or medical benefits. This is a particular concern for beneficiaries who (a) have relapsing/remitting conditions such as mental illness or many chronic illnesses or (b) need accommodations that may be available in one employment setting, but difficult to obtain in the future. The Ticket to Work and Work Incentives Improvement Act partially addressed this problem by allowing a limited “expedited reinstatement” to benefits, but this is not a complete solution since it is available for only 60 months from termination of cash benefits.The existing expedited reinstatement program could be improved by making the following statutory changes: (1) Eliminate the 60-month time limit; (2) Provide provisional cash and medical benefits until SSA processes the request for reinstatement (current rules limit provisional benefits to six months); (3) Ensure that both cash and medical benefits are promptly reinstated once SSA has approved the reinstatement; (4) Explicitly recognize that people may use expedited reinstatement repeatedly; and (5) Provide that beneficiaries are eligible for expedited reinstatement if they are unable to engage in SGA when they are no longer working.

In short, this is an important first step in revising our nation's SSDI/SSI programs to more adequately address the unique circumstances of those battling MS and other serious chronic illnesses.

Here is the link to the entire testimony.

Please consider how you can use your strong reputation and influence to ensure that the House and Senate will work together to revise SSDI/SSI laws that will improve the security of over 400,000 Americans whose lives and livelihoods have been shattered by multiple sclerosis.

Thank you, in advance, for your help and personal involvement in this vitally important issue.


(Insert your signature and address here)


To all MS Bloggers and Health Policy Bloggers reading this, you are encouraged to copy and post this message on your blog as well. We need to get the message out and sometimes grassroots movements can be powerful. Thank You.


  1. I'm unable to copy this important post so I will link on my blog. Thank you, Lisa.

  2. Let's hope this will get the attention of those who can make some changes!