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WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) co-sponsored bipartisan legislation to eliminate the five-month waiting period before ALS patients can receive the Social Security Disability Insurance benefits they earned by contributing to Social Security. The ALS Disability Insurance Access Act introduced by Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Tom Cotton (R-AR) would build on previous steps by Congress and the Social Security Administration to accommodate the difficult prognosis for those diagnosed with ALS.

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, commonly known as ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease, is a neurodegenerative disease affecting the ability of the brain to control muscle movements.  Individuals with ALS progressively lose the ability to speak, walk, and breathe.  The intended purpose of a five-month waiting period is to allow temporary conditions to reverse.  However, there is currently no cure or treatment to halt or undo the effects of ALS, and some ALS patients lose their fight with the disease before ever receiving benefits.  The ALS Disability Insurance Access Act would help alleviate some of the financial hardship that accompanies an ALS diagnosis and supports those living with ALS and their families.

“Those tragically diagnosed with ALS face a battle that has no cure or treatment, and it is often one that families and friends have to help bear. Requiring patients to wait five months to receive benefits is simply wrong and we need to help these families with the financial hardship that comes with a diagnosis,” said Senator Tillis. “This commonsense legislation is the least we can do for patients and families, and I hope we can pass this legislation out of Congress and send it to the President soon.”

“I am proud to co-sponsor this bill to eliminate the waiting period for those battling ALS,” said Senator Whitehouse. “It takes tremendous courage from patients, family members, and friends to cope with an ALS diagnosis. I hope that as a simple act of humanity we can set aside bureaucratic considerations and allow Americans who face the extraordinary blow of this diagnosis to immediately receive the benefits they have earned.”

“ALS is a progressive and disabling disease for which there is no cure. Those who suffer from this terrible disease endure enough pain, and they shouldn’t be subject to the usual waiting period for disability benefits—especially given their tragically short life expectancy,” said Senator Cotton.

The companion legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives is cosponsored by 89 Members.

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