Sunday, January 8, 2012

Stephen Hawking, ALS, and Disability

Stephen Hawking turns 70 today.  He was diagnosed with ALS almost 50 years ago when he was only 21.  It’s very unusual for someone with ALS to survive more than 5 years after being diagnosed.  It is because of this dire prognosis that SSI gives a person who meets the listing (11.10) for ALS begins benefits without having to endure the normal waiting period (pdf file).

………individuals with disabilities must wait five-months before receiving SSDI benefits. Finally, after receiving their SSDI benefits, individuals must wait an additional 24 months before they receive Medicare coverage. (Exceptions to the waiting period have been
made for individuals with ALS, and for those with end-stage renal disease.)

Scientific America has a very nice article by Katherine Harmon:  How Has Stephen Hawking Lived to 70 with ALS?

Stephen Hawking turns 70 on Sunday, beating the odds of a daunting diagnosis by nearly half a century.

The famous theoretical physicist has helped to bring his ideas about black holes and quantum gravity to a broad public audience. For much of his time in the public eye, though, he has been confined to a wheelchair by a form of the motor-neuron disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). And since 1985 he has had to speak through his trademark computer system—which he operates with his cheek—and have around-the-clock care.

But his disease seems hardly to have slowed him down. Hawking spent 30 years as a full professor of mathematics at the University of Cambridge. And he is currently the director of research at the school's Center for Theoretical Cosmology.  …….

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