Search SciPol

Brought to you by
What it does 

H.R. 842 / S 968 seeks to update how Social Security views disability claims for Huntington’s disease (HD).

  • Updates the medical evaluation criteria for individuals applying for Social Security Disability for Huntington’s disease, and makes patients eligible for benefits earlier in their disease progression.
  • Currently individuals who are deemed eligible for disability benefits must wait two years before receiving Medicare benefits. The current bill would waive that waiting period.
Relevant Science 

Huntington’s disease (HD)

  • Fatal, heritable, neurodegenerative disorder.
  • Affects muscle coordination/movement with coinciding cognitive and behavioral disruptions.
  • Prevalence in the U.S. is estimated to be 15,000 - 30,000.
  • Social Security Disability Insurance (SSD or SSDI) guidelines specifically evaluate HD as dependent on chorea, the uncontrollable writhing movements that characterize the motor disability of the disease.
  • Disease is inexorable, typically progressing over a period of years with no effective treatments.
Endorsements & Opposition 

In the 2001 Congress passed a similar bill, the Consolidated Appropriations Act,  that incorporated the Medicare, Medicaid, and SCHIP Benefits Improvement and Protection Act of 2000 (H.R.5661 - see Section 115). This law effectively waived Medicare’s two-year waiting period for individuals diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.


  • H.R. 842 has garnered early bipartisan support with 189 cosponsors (119-D/70-R) as of August 9, 2015.
  • The primary sponsor Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL-16) states: “This bipartisan legislation is a targeted solution that will fix an outdated system for a very vulnerable group of people” and original co-sponsor Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-NJ-9) adds: “This legislation takes the critical step of shortening the wait for Social Security and improving access to Medicare coverage for individuals with HD in order to get those suffering from this devastating disease the care they need.”
  • Supporters led by the Huntington’s Disease Society of America state that many HD patients suffer from debilitating cognitive and behavioral effects at least a decade before chorea symptoms manifest. These impediments often lead to loss of employment and employer-provided benefits, which is addressed by the current bill.


  • There have not been any public statements opposing the bill.

Introduced and referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means on February 10th, 2015. The bill is currently waiting to be reported on by committee. S. 968, an identical bill with the same title, was introduced on April 16th, 2015 and was referred to the Senate Committee on Finance


Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL-16) is the primary sponsor along with 103 original cosponsors. As of October 27th, 2015, the bill has 216 total cosponsors (133D, 83R). Sen. Kirsten E. Gillibrand (D-NY) is the primary sponsor for S. 968.

Primary Author 
Jeffrey Wojton
Misha Angrist, PhD, Thomas Williams, JD, MBE & Aubrey Incorvaia, MPP
Recommended Citation 

Duke SciPol, “Huntington's Disease Parity Act of 2015 (HR 842/ S 698, 114th Congress)” available at (3/31/2016).