Over 5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s today. It came upon them gradually and altered their lives in a multitude of ways. For those affected in their younger years, it can alter their ability to maintain a job, therefore, adding their burden.
However, because of changes made by the Social Security Administration (SSA) in 2008, those with early-onset Alzheimer’s could receive Social Security Disability (SSDI) if they cannot work.
What is Alzheimer’s?
Alzheimer’s disease is a brain disorder that affects various nerves throughout the brain and impairs an individual behaviorally and cognitively. The disease affects each person differently, but the most common effects include:
- memory loss
- verbal communication issues
- reasoning ability
- emotional stability
Any combination of these issues can hinder daily living activities and require an individual to seek help from family, friends, or personal care attendants. A majority of those diagnosed with Alzheimer’s are 65 years or older and researchers believe they developed the disease because of aging. But, at least 10% may be diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s, which researchers believe to be hereditary.
No cure for Alzheimer’s exists but in recent years several useful treatments have been developed. It is hoped that these treatments can slow the progression of decaying tissues. A lot of research is being done for a cure for Alzheimer’s.
SSDI and Alzheimer’s
The effects of early-onset Alzheimer’s can stop an individual from being able to work and lead them to seek Social Security disability benefits. The Social Security Administration (SSA) has a 5-step process to determine a claimant’s eligibility for disability benefits. When seeking disability benefits for early-onset Alzheimer’s, you will go through the following process:
- Determine if you are working at or above the Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) level as defined by the SSA in the year they file. The SGA level for 2021 is a monthly income of $1310.
- Determine if the issues you have from Alzheimer’s significantly limits your ability to perform basic work activities such as
- pulling or pushing
- lifting or carrying
- simple cognitive reasoning
- Determine if the severity of your Alzheimer’s meets the criteria outlined in the SSA’s impairments list.
The disability listing the SSA uses to evaluate the severity of Alzheimer’s is the listing for neurocognitive disorders. To meet the requirements of this listing, you must prove that your abilities have declined significantly in one or more of the following areas:
- learning and remembering (short-term memory, in particular)
- using language (inability to recall words, misuse of words)
- paying attention to tasks or listening to others
- planning and judgment
- social cognition (ability to know proper social behavior in differing circumstances), or
- physical coordination.
you must show you have extreme limitation specifically in one of the following areas or a “marked” (severe) limitation in two of the following areas:
- understanding, remembering, or using information (ability to understand instructions, learn new things, apply new knowledge to tasks)
- concentrating on tasks and completing tasks at a reasonable speed
- adapting or managing oneself (making plans for oneself independently of others; being aware of normal hazards and taking appropriate precautions, having practical personal skills), and
- interacting with others (with socially acceptable behavior).
- Determine if you can still do any work you may have done in the past, even with the problems caused by your Alzheimer’s.
- Determine if you can do any other work based on your:
- prior work experience
- mental and physical capabilities
Until 2008, receiving disability benefits for Alzheimer’s could prove problematic and take a lot of time. But, in 2008, the SSA added Alzheimer’s to their Compassionate Allowances list. This is a list of diseases and disorders that the SSA believes affect an individual so severely they need assistance quickly, therefore their cases are expedited.
Getting Help with Your Disability Claim for Alzheimer’s
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and it is affecting your ability to work, you could be eligible for SSDI benefits. But, the approval process approval can be complicated. The SSA requires detailed evidence of how Alzheimer’s interferes with your ability to work before considering approval for disability benefits.
Help from an experienced disability attorney can make a big difference in the possibility of you receiving SSDI benefits. An attorney will know how to help you gather the evidence you need to prove how Alzheimer’s impacts you or your loved one’s life and present it to the SSA.
Brock & Stout’s disability lawyers have over 25 years of experience helping clients get the Social Security benefits they need. Contact us for a free evaluation to see if we can help you or your loved one get the help they need.