More than 10,000 people died waiting for a disability decision from the Social Security Administration in 2017. The rising death toll coincides with the growing backlog of people awaiting a decision about their eligibility for Social Security disability insurance benefits. But even after a disabled individual has been found eligible, he or she must wait 5 months for benefits to begin, and 2 whole years before Medicare benefits start. The long waits, especially for Medicare, have forced many low to middle-income disabled beneficiaries to deplete their savings while they wait.
When asked whether the waiting periods for disability and Medicare benefits should be eliminated, 67% of TSCL’s poll participants support eliminating the waiting periods for both Social Security and Medicare. Only 18% supported keeping both waiting periods, 9% supported eliminating the 2-year wait for Medicare alone, and 5% supported eliminating the 5-month wait for Social Security alone.