Having a physician in congress can generate a reality check when it comes to disability.  Sens. Bill Cassidy, R-La., and Kirsten Gillibrand, D-New York.,  introduced legislation to provide patient’s with Huntington’s disease eligibility for disability benefits and waive the two-year Medicare wait period once an individual is disabled by the disease.

“I’m a doctor, I’ve seen how Huntington’s disease can affect a person and that person’s family,” Cassidy said. “When their symptoms decline, many are unable to work and are currently being pigeonholed to a 30-year-old law that is denying or delaying their ability to receive Medicare or disability benefits. This can delay their ability to receive care. By fixing an outdated law, we can help bring hope to those living with Huntington’s disease and their families.”

Gillibrand said, “Anyone diagnosed with Huntington’s disease deserves immediate care — not years or even decades later when it could be too late.”

Huntington’s disease causes progressive degeneration of nerve cells in the brain with a substantial impact on a person’s functional abilities and usually results in movement, cognitive and psychiatric disorders.

Over 100 members of congress support H.R. 842, The Huntington’s Disease Parity Act. This bipartisan legislation improves access to Social Security and Medicare for Americans battling Huntington’s disease (HD).

Background on H.R. 842:

Total mental and physical deterioration in prime-working years make it challenging for a person with Huntington’s disease to remain employed, devastating them financially and delaying access to necessary medical care. Due to the debilitating symptoms, every individual with HD will eventually become completely dependent on others for care. Today, 30,000 Americans are known to have HD and an additional 200,000-250,000 children of a parent with Huntington’s disease have a 50% chance of inheriting the deadly gene from an affected parent.

The Huntington’s Disease Parity Act directs the Social Security Administration (SSA) to revise the criteria for determining Social Security Disability and waives the Medicare two-year waiting period for people disabled by Huntington’s disease.

H.R. 842 was introduced by Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) and Bill Pascrell (D-NJ).