This June don your purple and join the 5.7 million Americans who are living with Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s disease is the 6th leading cause of death in the United States. Unlike many other conditions, Alzheimer’s disease has been on the increase for many years.
An Alzheimer’s diagnosis can have a significant impact on both your personal and professional life. While individuals with Alzheimer’s disease can sometimes maintain their lifestyle for a while, this degenerative disease typically results in a progressive cognitive decline. Over time, the ability to work often dissipates. Thankfully, there are financial safeguards for those who are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. The Social Security Administration (SSA) offers financial assistance to those who have become disabled due to conditions such as Alzheimer’s.
Why an Awareness Month for Alzheimer’s Disease?
Approximately every minute someone in the United States develops Alzheimer’s, and one in three seniors dies from the effects of Alzheimer’s and other brain-related diseases.
While many people think that Alzheimer’s disease is merely a memory loss problem, this irreversible disease can also cause significant psychiatric problems that lead to changes in mood and behavior.
June has been designated Alzheimer’s & Brain awareness month to help raise awareness and support for the many who are impacted by the disease.
How Can Someone with Alzheimer’s Disease Qualify for Social Security Disability Benefits?
The SSA uses a medical guide, known as the Blue Book, to determine whether or not a condition such as Alzheimer’s Disease is severe enough to warrant disability payments. Each condition in the Blue Book lists specific criteria and symptoms that you must have to be approved. Alzheimer’s is evaluated in section the Blue Book section 12.02, Neurocognitive Disorders.
To meet the requirements for disability under section 12.02, individuals must have significant medical documentation illustrating a cognitive deficit in one of the following: attention, executive function, learning and memory, language, perceptual-motor, or social cognition. Further, individuals with Alzheimer’s must have extreme limitation in one of the following:
- Understanding, remembering, or applying information
- Interacting with others
- Concentrating, persisting, or maintaining pace
- Adapting or managing oneself
Alternatively, if you do not meet one of the four criteria listed above, you must have a mental disorder that is considered serious and persistent, lasting over a period of at least two years. You must receive regular medical treatment and must be unable to adjust to changes in your environment.
If you are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and are under the age of 65, you have what is called “early-onset Alzheimer’s.” As such, you may qualify for a Compassionate Allowance from the SSA, meaning that your application and benefits could be expedited. It is possible to earn disability benefits much more quickly utilizing a compassionate allowance.
What If I Don’t Meet or Match a Blue Book Listing for Alzheimer’s Disease?
Individuals in the early stages of Alzheimer’s might not meet a Blue Book listing, but still may be unable to function to their full capacity in their job. These individuals could qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) through a medical-vocational allowance.
The progression of Alzheimer’s Disease varies from person to person. If you do not meet the Blue Book listing, a Social Security representative will review your chart to determine your residual functioning capacity (RFC). Your RFC will determine the maximum level of work that the SSA feels that you can handle. Many individuals with Alzheimer’s disease choose to have their treating physician perform their own RFC, explaining what can be done physically and cognitively.
How Do I Start the Disability Application Process for Alzheimer’s Disease?
If you have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease, you should begin the application process immediately. If you are under the age of 65, you might qualify for a Compassionate Allowance, thus expediting your application. An experienced Social Security Attorney or Disability advocate can assist you in determining what medical records you need and what you have on hand, as well your chances of winning your Disability claim for Alzheimer’s Disease.