MELVILLE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Long Island Congressman Steve Israel has introduced new legislation aimed at helping the terminally ill.
The bill would eliminate the five-month mandatory waiting period for receiving Social Security Disability payments for those who are given 12 months or less to live.
Israel said under the current rules, many terminally ill patients will not receive the benefits before they die.
“The Social Security Administration’s response is it will take an act of Congress to change this,” Rep. Israel said.
And that’s what Israel intends to do. The congressman said he expects bi-partisan support for legislation that’s about showing the government has compassion.
“This disability payment is their money. They shouldn’t have to wait to receive it,” Rep. Israel said.
Israel said he was moved to act after he was contacted by Edward and Susan Young of Dix Hills.
Susan Young, 64, who worked all of her life as a speech pathologist, was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer last October and was given only nine months to live despite being a non-smoker.
“I’m just sad and that’s how I describe it, I’m unbelievably sad,” Young said. “Superficial things in life don’t mean anything anymore, but the three people that really matter are my husband and my two children. I won’t see my children’s marriage. I won’t be a grandma. I’ll never get those opportunities.”
“She just drew the short stick. The government should not take advantage of that,” Edward Young told CBS 2’s Dana Tyler.
Susan Young applied for Social Security Disability payments after her diagnosis and was approved for $2,000 a month in benefits, but was told she’d have to wait five months to collect the benefits she has paid into for more than 30 years.
“It just seems like a total injustice,” Susan Young said. “I quit my job so children wouldn’t have to watch me deteriorate. I could’ve continued to collect a salary, I could’ve gone on sick time…I was committed enough to do what was right for the general public, then the thanks you get is that no one is going to look after you.”
The current waiting period is intended to prevent disability fraud.
“This rule which may make sense in some cases does not make sense in this case,” Rep. Israel said.
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