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Public Statements

Statements on Introduced Bills and Joint Resolutions

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC



Mr. BROWN. Mr. President, today I am introducing the Social Security Act Improvements for the Terminally Ill Act. This is a critical and long overdue piece of legislation and I urge my colleagues to give it due consideration and, ultimately, support.

In the Senate, we are accustomed to making tough decisions on pressing issues that have a direct impact on the lives of Americans. But few issues are both as urgent and as uncomplicated as the one now present to the Chamber.

This bill would waive the 5-month waiting period in the Social Security disability program for terminally ill patients--thus allowing those with just months to live to receive the Federal benefits they deserve. None of our fellow citizens should have to spend their last days haggling with the Federal Government for benefits that can help ease the financial burden associated with palliative care, death, and burial. Specifically, this bill would authorize disability benefits for any eligible individual whose disability is expected to or does result in the patient's death before the end of the current 5-month waiting period.

This commonsense reform would grant justice to those, like Ohioan Mr. Arthur Woolweaver, Jr., who are being effectively ``waited out'' by the Government. Even though Mr. Woolweaver had worked and contributed to Social Security all his life and even though his disability due to cancer was easily verified by the Social Security Administration, he was still forced to wait ..... and wait ..... and wait. Unfortunately, it is now too late for Mr. Woolweaver, who passed away on June 12 of this year. Ultimately, Mr. Woolweaver was still waiting for his benefits, which would have totaled $1,800 per month, when he died this summer. This money could have helped Mr. Woolweaver's wife keep their house in Cuyahoga Falls, OH.

Like it or not, the Federal Government is often viewed as a faceless and heartless bureaucracy. This bill offers a chance to take a small step to change that image and restore faith in the system. I think I speak for most Americans when I say that I want my Government to be responsive, logical, and compassionate. This bill seeks to achieve that ideal.

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