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Alzheimer’s disease is a degenerative condition that directly affects nearly 5.4 million Americans.  Many people think that it only affects the elderly – but in actuality, onset can occur as early as a person’s 30s and 40s, during their prime working years.  Here’s how the Social Security Administration helps Social Security Disability claimants who have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.

Alzheimer’s disease has been part of Social Security’s Compassionate Allowances Initiative since 2010.

The Compassionate Allowances program is used to identify cases where applicants obviously meet disability standards based on a formal diagnosis. The Social Security Administration expedites the cases of applicants who submit evidence that they have a medical condition included on the Compassionate Allowances list.

A full list of conditions that fall under the Compassionate Allowances program is available at this link: https://www.ssa.gov/compassionateallowances/conditions.htm

Being placed on the list of Compassionate Allowances allows Alzheimer’s patients to receive disability benefits faster.

Alzheimer’s is a devastating diagnosis for patients and their families.  For patients who are employed when they are diagnosed, often this is compounded by loss of employment and health insurance.  The Social Security Administration recognizes the special hardships that often come in the wake of an Alzheimer’s diagnosis.  

Due to the severity of their diagnosis, applicants with Alzheimer’s are not required to fill out the work history and education part of the Social Security Disability application.  Additionally, Alzheimer’s patients who apply for Social Security Disability benefits may receive a decision on their claim in a matter of weeks instead of the months or years that it normally takes. 

Learn more by reading the Compassionate Allowances Program FAQ on the SSA website.

Families affected by early-onset Alzheimer’s should see if their loved one qualifies for Social Security Disability benefits.

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and it has interfered with employment, I strongly recommend filing a claim.  When a terminal illness is present and every moment with your loved ones becomes precious, it is almost impossible to think about money.  Things can feel hopeless.  Being approved for Social Security Disability benefits quickly can lighten that weight by taking away some of the financial uncertainty during this very difficult time.  

Joni Beth Bailey is a Southern Illinois Social Security Disability representative.