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Disability option roundup: SSDI, Medicare, COBRA, HIPAA

Right now, once an application has been sent in, it can take up to 800 days for a person to receive Social Security disability benefits. But legal professionals can help expedite the process, and an application can be fast-tracked if a person suffers from one of the 200 health conditions listed in the Compassionate Allowances program. If you suffer from one of these conditions and can't work, then you need to be aware of your options for receiving benefits more quickly.

Even if you have been diagnosed with one of the 200 conditions, it still may take 24 months before you can receive Medicare benefits. This is especially problematic if you no longer have health insurance because you're unable to work. On the other hand, if you can pay the full cost of your former employer's health insurance (most people can't), then you could make use of COBRA, which mandates that some employees should still receive insurance benefits after leaving their job.

After COBRA benefits are exhausted, it may be possible to make use of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, popularly known as HIPAA. This act provides that health insurance companies must give coverage options to people who at one time had health insurance and their coverage was never broken.

Unfortunately, insurance companies almost always place profit concerns over the well-being of patients, and these companies charge exorbitant premiums for people who take out a HIPAA policy. People who are already unable to work usually can't afford these premiums.

The Affordable Care Act will change some of these rules next year, but disabled Wisconsin and Minnesota residents would do well to act now. To learn more about the SSDI application process, please visit our La Crosse Social Security disability site.

Source: Tucson Citizen, "Some Social Security disability conditions get priority treatment," Denise Early, Jan. 14, 2013

Source: Social Security Administration, "Compassionate Allowances Conditions," Dec. 12, 2012

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