Though the Social Security Administration (SSA) includes Alzheimer’s disease under its listing of impairments, not everyone who suffers from this disease is eligible to receive disability benefits. It’s important to see a doctor about deteriorating mental health that could be symptomatic of Alzheimer’s to get the help you need as soon as possible.
Early diagnosis will not only allow patients to begin receiving treatment and hopefully prevent the progress of the disease, but also allow them to apply for disability benefits through the SSA.
Social Security Disability Criteria for Alzheimer’s Disease
Because the age that Alzheimer’s becomes readily diagnosable is usually near or past retirement age, there are several strategies a patient could take after being diagnosed.
For those whose onset date is before your retirement age (which is between 65 and 67, depending on your date of birth), you should consider applying for disability benefits if your symptoms are severe enough. Without getting too involved, taking early retirement typically comes with a permanent reduction in your benefit amount. If you qualify for Social Security disability benefits, however, you can receive your full benefit amount without a penalty until you reach retirement age.
According to the SSA, early-onset Alzheimer’s disease must meet the following criteria to be eligible for benefits:
- Disorganization of motor function in two limbs, resulting in an extreme limitation in the ability to stand up from a seated position, balance while standing or walking, or use the upper extremities.
- Marked limitation in physical functioning and in one of the following:
- Understanding, remembering, or applying information
- Interacting with others
- Concentrating or persisting activities
- Adapting to the outside world or taking care of oneself
In plain English, if the patient suffering from Alzheimer’s cannot stand or walk easily and has difficulty functioning socially and/or cognitively, they will likely be approved for disability benefits.
If a person suffers from early-onset Alzheimer’s specifically, they may be fast-tracked through the Compassionate Allowance (CAL) program, which means they may hear of their approval within a month of initial application (compared to up to 20 months for standard applications).
What to Include in an Alzheimer’s Application
To help support your loved one’s application, we recommend including the following information in the application for Social Security disability insurance (SSDI):
- Medical records detailing the patient’s declining mental state and progression of dementia
- A report (usually from a caregiver’s perspective) on how the symptoms of the disease affect the patient’s daily life
- Supporting clinical tests that document the standardized severity of the patient’s dementia, such as the Clinical Dementia Rating
In addition, make sure to tell your preparer or the SSA that your application deals specifically with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease and therefore qualifies for Compassionate Allowance. This is the key to putting your application on the fast track; if this isn’t mentioned, the application could end up in the standard evaluation process.
Help from a Local Social Security Disability Attorney
In serious cases of Alzheimer’s disease, the person making life-altering decisions is usually a caretaker, rather than the patient. At Hensley Legal Group, we handle many cases in which a person is caring for their loved one’s physical, mental, and financial wellbeing. Applying for Social Security benefits shouldn’t be added to your plate; we’re here to help.
Our Indiana disability attorneys know the SSA inside and out. They’ll prepare the application and keep you informed of deadlines, records requests, and other information so you don’t have to worry about putting it together on your own. Call us or contact us online today to start a free conversation about your situation.