Alzheimer’s Disease is a “chronic neurodegenerative disease,” meaning that it is an irreversible, permanent, and progressively worsening brain disorder. Alzheimer’s attacks memory and thinking ability, and will eventually stop a patient from completing the most basic of tasks.
Alzheimer’s Disease is the most common cause of dementia, which is basically a term that means memory loss, a loss in thinking skills and in some situations, a loss in communications skills. This disease affects memory and cognitive abilities and will slowly, over time, prevent a person from being able to conduct daily life in the manner of which they have become accustomed.
Alzheimer’s Disease Symptoms and Complications
The symptoms of Alzheimer’s will change based on whether or not the patient has “early onset” Alzheimers, or if they are in later stages of the disease. Early dementia symptoms will attack mental function in a number of ways, such as abstract thinking, decision making, emotional behavior, forgetfulness, judgment, language, memory, perception or personality. Each person will be affected differently and at different speeds and severity.
Alzheimer’s will worsen over time. As such, the complications become more serious and dangerous as the disease progresses. In the early stages, people will begin to have difficulty with basic tasks, including balancing finances, playing games, remembering recent activities, losing interest in favorite activities, misplacing items and learning new information or tasks. Given time, these symptoms and complications will become worse and your ability to work will greatly diminish as the disease advances.
Does Alzheimer’s Qualify Me for Disability Benefits like SSDI?
In many cases, Alzheimer’s directly affects your ability to perform the job duties necessary to “sustain work.” However, just being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s is not necessarily enough to automatically qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits.
Alzheimer’s Disease is mentioned in two separate sections of the Social Security Administration’s “Blue Book,” their listing of disabling conditions. Alzheimer’s appears in Section 11.17 (Neurodegenerative disorders of the central nervous system) and in Section 12.02 (Neurocognitive Disorders.)
In these sections, the SSA lists specifically a variety of disabling conditions that applicants may “meet or equal” in order to be considered disabled. Broadly speaking, these include ‘extreme’ and/or ‘marked’ limitations on one’s capacity to function physically and/or mentally.
It should be noted that some people who are in the early stages of Alzheimer’s may still be able to work in some capacity, and may be able to do so for some time, and still lead happy and productive lives. Others, however, may be forced to stop working entirely, or find their work choices to be significantly reduced.
If an applicant’s Alzheimer’s Disease – either alone or in combination with other medical conditions – rises to the level of a severe impairment that will prevent them from sustaining work, and it has or is expected to affect that person for at least one year, or to result in death, they may very well qualify for disability benefits.
Alzheimer’s Disease and Compassionate Allowance
Early-onset Alzheimer’s Disease is on the SSA’s list of “Compassionate Allowances” which means it is one of the most serious conditions a claimant can have. From the SSA’s website:
Compassionate Allowances are a way to quickly identify diseases and other medical conditions that, by definition, meet Social Security’s standards for disability benefits. These conditions primarily include certain cancers, adult brain disorders, and a number of rare disorders that affect children. The CAL initiative helps us reduce waiting time to reach a disability determination for individuals with the most serious disabilities.
In many cases, being diagnosed with a condition on the Compassionate Allowances list allows for faster processing and a much greater likelihood of being approved. An approval is not guaranteed, however – approval does depend on the facts of each individual case, so we recommend speaking with a qualified representative or disability advocate to discuss your particular situation.
If you have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, and have had to leave work before reaching full retirement age, you may qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits.
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If you or a loved one have Alzheimer’s Disease and are considering a claim for disability benefits, we recommend you read our articles about the process of applying for SSDI and the way the Social Security Administration uses their Sequential Evaluation Process to determine disability.
This article is presented for general information purposes only. Nothing in this article should be taken as medical advice. Medical decisions (including whether to start, stop, or modify any treatment plan) are extremely important and should always be made with the advice and counsel of a qualified medical professional.
About Citizens Disability, LLC:
Since 2010, Citizens Disability has been America’s premier Social Security Disability institution. Our services include helping people in applying for SSDI benefits, managing the process through Reconsideration, and representing people in person at their Hearing, and if necessary, bringing their case to the Appeals Council. Our mission is to give a voice to the millions of Americans who are disabled and unable to work, helping them receive the Social Security Disability benefits to which they may be entitled. Learn more about us and disability benefits like SSDI & SSI or give us a call at (800)492-3260.