LANSING, Mich.— The state Senate today passed a resolution urging Congress to change Social Security eligibility rules on behalf of the terminally ill.
Senate Resolution 134, authored by Sen. Mike Green, R-Mayville, asks Congress to adjust existing rules for the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) programs. If the changes recommended in the resolution are adopted, terminally ill patients could be considered disabled under SSDI if physically unable to work and would not be subject to the standard five-month waiting period for SSI benefits. The changes would only apply to individuals who have been diagnosed with terminal illnesses if the diagnosis includes an estimated life expectancy of six months or less.
Green gave an impassioned speech on the Senate floor Thursday advocating the resolution, saying that it is about government working more efficiently for those legitimately in need of assistance from funds they’ve essentially been paying into over the years.
“I introduced this resolution in honor of Tina Moyer. Tina was diagnosed with cancer in late 2011 and passed away 11 weeks later,” said Green. “The rapid progression of her disease made it impossible for her to work.
“Under current rules, she wasn’t considered disabled and wasn’t given proper aid due to a five- month waiting period. This resolution will make the system more efficient in people’s final days so they receive the help they so desperately need.”
Although Moyer had paid federal income and Social Security taxes her entire adult life, existing rules prevented her from receiving disability benefits or supplemental income benefits that would have helped alleviate the financial burden of mounting medical bills. Sadly, she was approved for SSI benefits but passed away before the end of the waiting period.
Tina and her husband, Brian, had moved to Wyoming four years ago for work because of tough times in Michigan. On a recent trip to Mayville, Brian returned Tina’s remains to a local cemetery near where they used to live. His mission now is to fight what he calls “The Good Fight” for changes in benefit rules so that others facing a life-ending illness are not met with the same obstacles during their greatest time of need.
The resolution will now be sent to the president of the U.S. Senate, speaker of the U.S. House, and members of Michigan’s congressional delegation.