Wednesday, December 19, 2007

In the News: Editorial Responds to Disability Benefit Delays

... The backlog of applicants who are awaiting a decision after appealing an initial rejection has soared to 755,000 from 311,000 in 2000. The average wait for an appeals hearing now exceeds 500 days, twice as long as applicants had to wait in 2000.

Typically two-thirds of those who appeal eventually win their cases. But during the long wait, their conditions may worsen and their lives often fall apart. More and more people have lost their homes, declared bankruptcy or even died while awaiting an appeals hearing.

This is an excerpt from a December 11, 2007, editorial from the New York Times. Click here to read the complete piece.

New SSDI Resources Available
The National MS Society has just released a guidebook to help people living with MS navigate the Social Security disability application process.
For more information, visit

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

In the News: Disability Cases Last Longer as Backlog Rises

Steadily lengthening delays in the resolution of Social Security disability claims have left hundreds of thousands of people in a kind of purgatory, now waiting as long as three years for a decision. Two-thirds of those who appeal an initial rejection eventually win their cases.

But in the meantime, more and more people have lost their homes, declared bankruptcy or even died while awaiting an appeals hearing, say lawyers representing claimants and officials of the Social Security Administration, which administers disability benefits for those judged unable to work or who face terminal illness.

This is an excerpt from a December 10, 2007, New York Times article. Click here to read the complete story.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

New Giving Challenge Could Give $50,000 for Multiple Sclerosis

Just visit between December 13 and January 31, 2008.
You can "champion a cause" or "give to a cause" ... and you'll receive your own interactive web banner.

The top eight individuals who attract the most donors to their cause will get $50,000 for that charity.

The top 100 nonprofits with the most donations will get $1,000.

Thank you for supporting the MS cause!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Spend an hour live online with country music star Clay Walker

At 7:30 pm ET (6:30 CT) on December 12, join the National MS Society's live Learn Online® Webcast with Clay Walker at Discover Clay's proactive approach to treating MS, find ways to maximize MS therapies, and pick up tips from Clay on Joining the MS Movement. Email questions in advance to

Visit to learn more about participating in the live Clay Walker Webcast.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Just Released Videos from the Society's "Moving Forward Film Festival"

Five individuals living with multiple sclerosis created and produced videos on their experiences with the disease. Those videos were featured at the Moving Forward Film Festival at the National MS Society's 2007 National Conference recently in Dallas. Click here to view all the videos.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Update on Medicare Therapy Caps and ADA Restoration Act

MS Exceptions Set to Expire on Medicare Therapy Caps
Rehabilitation therapy under Medicare might no longer be affordable for some people living with multiple sclerosis and other conditions. The exceptions process to Medicare's arbitrary reimbursement limits, or therapy caps, on rehabilitation services is set to expire on December 31, 2007.

MS activists have long been determined to eliminate Medicare therapy caps altogether on reimbursement for physical therapy (PT), speech language pathology, and occupational therapy (OT) services. In 2008, the therapy cap reimbursement level is scheduled to be $1,810 for PT and speech therapy, and a separate cap of $1,810 will apply to OT services.

To help alleviate the burden, Congress instituted a process for exceptions that allow beneficiaries to apply for therapy services through Medicare above the current dollar cap. MS currently has an automatic exception, making it easier for people with MS and their healthcare providers to continue therapy without interruption. But without Congressional action, the therapy cap exceptions will be eliminated, further complicating and limiting necessary therapy services.

On November 6, Congressman Earl Pomeroy (ND) introduced the Long Term Care Quality and Modernization Act (H.R. 4082). Part of this bill (Section 108) seeks to extend the therapy caps exceptions process through December 31, 2009.

In addition, the Medicare Access to Rehabilitation Services Act (S. 450/H.R. 748) seeks to repeal the permanent therapy caps altogether — the best long-term solution. However, if the therapy caps cannot fully be repealed, then it is imperative to extend the exceptions process in the short term. We will keep you posted as this issue moves forward in Congress.

Have Your Legislators Co-Sponsored the ADA Restoration Act Yet?
During the past year, the Society and MS activists nationwide have supported the ADA Restoration Act (H.R. 3195/S. 1881) introduced by Representatives Steny Hoyer (MD) and James Sensenbrenner (WI), and Senators Tom Harkin (IA) and Arlen Specter (PA). This bill seeks to restore the protections and intent of the landmark Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), as passed by Congress in 1990 with regard to disability discrimination and employment.

The House bill has 235 bipartisan co-sponsors, which is more than half of all the members of the House of Representatives. Click here to see whether your Representative is a co-sponsor. The ADA Restoration Act will help restore protections for people living with MS and other disabilities. People living with MS manage their symptoms with medication to help prevent or ease their disability. But that can sometimes make them appear too functional and could preclude them from ADA protections. Despite the ADA's intent to create a level playing field in the workplace, the full promise of the law has never been fulfilled.

The Senate bill still needs more support. Senators Harkin, Specter, and Edward Kennedy (MA) are the only sponsors so far. Take action. Click here and enter your ZIP code to urge your Senators to co-sponsor this important legislation on disability rights.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Are You Registered to Vote?  Deadlines are Soon for 2008 Primary Elections

Your Vote in the 2008 Presidential Primaries Could Help Support MS Issues

The 2008 Presidential Primary Elections will begin in January. If you are not already registered to vote, now is the time. Many state deadlines for voter registration start in December. Click here for the voter registration deadline in your state:

As a nonprofit organization, the National Multiple Sclerosis Society is nonpartisan and does not endorse any political candidates. We do encourage all legislators to join the movement and support issues that will help move us closer to a world free of MS and other disabilities.

Voting in the primary and general elections is one way to help advance MS issues. The Society's priority MS issues include:
  • Increased MS research
  • Disability rights
  • Access to quality health care
  • Increased long-term care resources
  • Accessible, affordable insurance
Thank you for voting and for being an MS activist. Join the movement at