NBC Montana: Daines, Tester measure aims to change ALS benefit waiting period

MISSOULA, Mont. – Some new financial hope for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, patients. The progressive neurological conditions is commonly called Lou Gehrig’s disease.

Roughly 5,000 people in the U.S. are diagnosed every year with it.

If you are one of them, you have to wait five months in order for Social Security disability benefits to kick in. The reason, we’re told, is to let any temporary conditions reverse. But there aren’t any cures or treatments to delay or reverse ALS.

On Wednesday, U.S. Sen. Steve Daines (R-Montana) introduced a measure to change that waiting period.

“ALS is a devastating disease, and Montanans who have been diagnosed with it should not have to wait five months to receive disability benefits. My bipartisan bill eliminates this waiting period, providing quicker access to benefits for those who suffer from this aggressive disease. I’m glad to see my bill pass the U.S. Senate, and I will continue fighting until it’s passed out of the House and signed into law to help support Montanans battling ALS,” Daines said.

Sen. Jon Tester is a cosponsor of the bill and tweeted, “Glad to see my bipartisan ALS Disability Insurance Access Act pass the Senate. The last thing folks need when facing this diagnosis is more complicated bureaucracy standing in the way of the care they need-this critical bill cuts red tape for those battling #ALS.”

The measure will allow Montanans with ALS to receive both Medicare and Social Security disability benefits in the first month after a patient is covered by it.