Early onset Alzheimer's patients can now immediately apply for a fast-track determination to qualify for Social Security Disability Income (SSDI), thanks to a new ruling by the Social Security Administration (SSA). The agency’s Compassionate Allowances list recently included "early onset," also known as "younger onset," Alzheimer's disease affecting people under 65 years of age. This means that individuals with certain diseases or conditions are eligible for benefits based upon the disease itself, rather than the customary burden of proof that an applicant can no longer work because of disease-related disability.
Applicants must still meet other SSDI criteria, but at least people with early onset Alzheimer's Disease don't have to endure the long, drawn-out process involved in qualifying for benefits. In the past, it wasn't uncommon for someone with Alzheimer's Disease to wait up to three years to receive a ruling from the Social Security Administration while, in the meantime, they lost their jobs, paid a severe emotional toll and racked up expensive medical bills. Another advantage of being determined eligible to receive SSDI is that it automatically makes your husband eligible to receive Medicare benefits.
In addition to early onset Alzheimer's, SSA has added four other related dementias to the Compassionate Allowances list: frontotemporal dementia (FTD), Pick's disease, Creutfeldt-Jakob disease and mixed dementia. Experts believe at least 500,000 people in their 30s, 40s and 50s in the U.S. are living with Alzheimer’s Disease or a related form of dementia. Overall, there are 5.3 million Americans with Alzheimer's Disease, and nearly 11 million family members and other informal caregivers provide more than 12 billion hours of unpaid care for them. With these staggering statistics, it is no surprise that the Social Security Administration has taken steps to provide necessary support to these Americans.
Now that your husband has been given a medical diagnosis of early-onset Alzheimer's, you should immediately apply for SSDI benefits by going to your local Social Security Office. It's best to apply in person, however, so call 1.800.772.1213 ahead of time to schedule an appointment. You’ll need to provide a significant amount of information and fill out many forms. You can acquire a list and complete some of the forms in advance by clicking here
. You can also download a "Starter Kit," a "Check List" and other forms from the website.
You and your spouse would benefit by calling your local Alzheimer's Association Chapter to find out about services available in your community, and how to join a support group. Call 1.800.272.3900 or you can visit alz.org
for terrific resources and more.