Here is some background on why this effort is so important to MS patients and others who suffer from chronic illness.
This past year, I helped spearhead a movement to secure flood insurance for coastal homeowners who are ineligible to participate in the National Flood Insurance Program and who can no longer purchase private insurance in the wake of two consecutive years of unusually active hurricane seasons. As a direct result of this effort, the state of Florida recently passed historic legislation allowing homeowners to create their own self-funded flood insurance pool. Now, I am concentrating my efforts to amend the Social Security guidelines to include special provisions for victims of chronic illnesses, such as Relapsing-Remitting Multiple Sclerosis. Here's how this important effort came about and how you can help it succeed.
The motivation behind the need to amend Social Security guidelines resulted from my own experience in applying for early Social Security benefits and through the personal stories shared by many other MS patients. Unlike Social Security Disability Insurance, which is based upon the financial need of disabled individuals, regular Social Security benefits (normally received at age 65) can begin at a younger age if a person becomes disabled. However, the approval process generally takes 3-5 years. In my case, my claim was denied even though the neurologist assigned by SSA determined that I was, in fact, disabled.
Fortunately, I had enough savings to live on. But I'm mindful that there are many other people who aren't as fortunate, and have been waiting for years for much-needed benefits approval. Perhaps you are among them. According to a former Social Security Judge with whom I spoke, anyone under age 50 is generally rejected by Social Security as a matter of routine until they file an appeal and challenge the decision in court. Ironically, private organizations would be prosecuted for such discrimination, but our own government widely practices it with no accountability or consequence. This is your opportunity to make a real difference and effect necessary change.
I have written a formal online petition designed to facilitate a much better and fairer solution. Instead of making it so difficult to qualify for permanent disability benefits, Social Security guidelines need to be amended to allow for temporary benefits during times when benefits are actually needed. I'm sure many people on permanent disability would welcome the opportunity to work periodically if they knew they wouldn't have to go through the several-year approval process all over again the next time they got seriously ill.
The result of the current system is that many MS patients who are already on disability will never return to work out of fear that they won't be able to get help during future attacks. There is simply no incentive. Currently, there is no provision that allows chronically disabled individuals to resume working while maintaining eligibility for future benefits.
This petition is a way we can collectively urge our legislators to propose much-needed reform. It will allow those with chronic diseases to continue to contribute to the workforce as they're able...it will make it easier to extend assistance to those who really need help, if only on a periodic basis...and ultimately, it will cost the taxpayers less.
The new petition is just beginning to generate signatures. Among its first 100 endorsements are MS patients and their families, physicians, MS advocacy organizations and a political action group that recently testified before congress for similar reform.
Unlike the hundreds of petitions that ask for signatures but are never presented to anyone, this is an opportunity for your voice to be heard. My goal is to gather signatures from 10,000 concerned citizens during the coming year. As soon as that goal is reached, I am committed to formally present the petition to The House Ways and Means Committee.
Please sign this important petition today at: www.petitionthem.com/default.asp?sect=detail&pet=3685
Thank you, in advance, for your support.