Can a person with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease recover Social Security disability benefits?

Yes, many people with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease are eligible for Social Security disability benefits. Early-onset Alzheimer’s disease typically occurs in people who are in their 40s or 50s and who are not yet eligible for Social Security retirement benefits.

For These People Social Security Disability May be an Option

Applications for Social Security disability based on early-onset Alzheimer’s disease may be evaluated pursuant to Section 12.02 in the Listing of Impairments. According to that listing, an applicant may be eligible for Social Security disability if the applicant:

  • Demonstrates loss of specific cognitive abilities and the medically-documented persistence of at least one of the following: disorientation of time and place; memory impairment; perceptual or thinking disturbances; personality changes; mood disturbances; impaired emotional functioning or impulse control; or loss of at least 15 I.Q. points.

AND

  • The loss of cognitive abilities results in at least two of the following: marked restriction of activities of daily living; marked difficulties in maintaining social functioning; marked difficulties in maintaining concentration, persistence or pace; or repeated episodes of decompensation.

Alternatively, a person with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease may qualify for Social Security disability benefits if there is a medically-documented history of a chronic organic mental disorder for at least two years that has resulted in more than a minimal limitation of the ability to do basic work activities and one of the following:

  • Repeated episodes of decompensation, each of extended duration.
  • A prediction that the individual will decompensate when even a minimal increase in mental demands or a change in environment is presented.
  • Current history of one or more years of an inability to function outside a highly-supportive living arrangement and an indication that the need for this type of living arrangement is likely to continue.

Additionally, an applicant may claim that her condition is equal in severity to another listing in the Listing of Impairments or that she otherwise qualifies for Social Security disability because of her disease.

The Application May be Expedited

Early-onset Alzheimer’s disease is included in the Social Security Administration’s Compassionate Allowance Initiative. That means that people with an early-onset Alzheimer’s diagnosis may have their applications expedited. In order to take advantage of this fast track option, it is important to be specific about the diagnosis on the application and to tell the person handling the application that the Compassionate Allowance Initiative applies.

People with early-onset Alzheimer’s may need help for many years to come and Social Security disability may be an important part of that help until the individual reaches retirement age. To learn more about the benefits of Social Security disability, please read our FREE book, Social Security Disability: What You Need to Know, today.

Carl M. Weisbrod
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Managing Partner of Morgan & Weisbrod, Board Certified in Social Security Disability Law