Many people in Illinois will struggle with Alzheimer’s as they age. Statistics from the Alzheimer’s Association indicate that an estimated 5.2 million Americans suffer from the disease. Alzheimer’s affects the regions of the brain that control thought, language and memory. Alzheimer’s affects 1 in 9 people older than 65 and about 1 in 3 people over the age of 85. For many of these victims, obtaining some form of outside support, such as Social Security Disability benefits, is crucial.
Even in its mildest form, Alzheimer’s can make it difficult for victims to work and care for themselves. People with mild or moderate Alzheimer’s may exhibit poor judgment and require more time to complete daily activities. They may also struggle to recognize people, understand new situations and carry out complex, multi-step tasks. As the disease progresses, patients can regress to the physical, mental and emotional state of an infant or small child.
Burdens of Alzheimer’s
Medications can temporarily reduce certain symptoms such as memory loss, behavioral changes and sleep changes. However, there is no known cure for the disease, which means victims and their families must plan for future care and costs.
The financial cost of Alzheimer’s can be substantial. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that Medicare patients with the disease have expenses three times higher than other Medicare patients. In addition to direct costs of care, people with Alzheimer’s may need to pay for prescriptions, assisted care and safety improvements to their homes.
These expenses may be especially challenging for people with other obligations, such as paying off debts or supporting a family. Unfortunately, according to the Alzheimer’s Association, as many as 200,000 people younger than 65 suffer from early-onset Alzheimer’s. For victims who have lost the ability to work, Social Security Disability insurance may help cover some of these expenses.
SSD and Alzheimer’s
The Social Security Administration lists Alzheimer’s among its approved qualifying illnesses for Social Security Disability insurance benefits. The SSA recently added early-onset Alzheimer’s to the conditions covered under its Compassionate Allowances program, which fast tracks the application process so victims receive benefits sooner. However, this does not mean all applicants with Alzheimer’s who file Social Security Disability benefits claims are approved automatically.
To qualify for disability benefits, an applicant must provide non-medical eligibility information along with information about the disability. Alzheimer’s victims should provide contact information for all healthcare providers, information on medications taken and available medical records. Records showing a cognitive decline over time may better the odds of approval. Applicants who work with a Social Security Disability attorney for the initial application or for an appeal can also greatly improve their likelihood of approval.