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Pickering, Pomeroy Introduce Social Security Disability Reform Measure

Press Release

Location: Washington, DC


Thursday, Congressman Chip Pickering (R-Miss) and Congressman Earl Pomeroy (D-N.D.) introduced the Joseph H. Seall Act of 2007 (HR 2713). This bill would provide a waiver of the five-month waiting period for Social Security disability benefits for terminally ill individuals. The legislation is named for Joseph H. Seall of Summit, Mississippi, a veteran who qualified for Social Security disability benefits, but who, due to the five-month waiting period, did not receive his first check until the day after he died.

"Currently there is no provision that allows a Social Security disability case, no matter how qualified and necessary, to bypass the automatic five -month waiting period from approval to receipt. For terminally ill individuals, this could mean that after a life time of putting money into Social Security, they might pass away before receiving their approved benefits," Pickering said.

Pickering continued, "This isn't just about the money. Joseph Seall is a man who served his country and worked hard his whole life. He was diagnosed with terminal cancer; approved to receive disability benefits; and then because of the inflexibility of government rules, passed away before he could receive his first check. This legislation allows a waiver for a terminally ill beneficiary."

The Pickering-Pomeroy legislation allows the Commissioner of Social Security to waive the statutory five-month waiting period for disability benefits when an individual is terminally ill. The measure also requires the Commissioner of Social Security to conduct a study of the Social Security disability claims process and make recommendations to Congress for improvements and reforms.

"There is an unacceptable backlog of disability claims waiting to be processed by the Social Security Administration, leaving thousands of people in North Dakota and across the country without the benefits they've earned," Congressman Pomeroy said. "This bill will expedite the delivery of disability benefits to people who are terminally ill and require Social Security to find ways to improve the evaluation process and promptly deliver benefits to those who qualify."

Pomeroy serves on the Social Security Subcommittee of the House Ways and Means committee, where the bill will be referred for action.

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