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Are people with Alzheimer's eligible for disability benefits?

Many people consider Alzheimer's to be a debilitating disease because it can result in a number of conditions that can significantly impact a person's life. From memory issues to changes in behavior and personality, Alzheimer's oftentimes necessitates the need for long-term care, which can be problematic financially for some.

When most people imagine Alzheimer's disease, they think of elderly people, likely at or near retirement age. This association with retirees though oftentimes leads people to assume that the disease does not have an impact on a person's ability to work, therefore creating a potential need for disability benefits. But what if we told you that there was a form of Alzheimer's that could impact a person's ability to work and that it could do so well before a person reached retirement age?

Called younger-onset -- or early-onset -- Alzheimer's, this form of the degenerative disease can develop when a person is in their 40s or 50s. Occurring in about 200,000 people in the United States at present time, younger-onset Alzheimer's presents a challenge because it may be misdiagnosed by medical professionals who may mistakenly contribute a person's condition to other diseases or illnesses.

This is particularly problematic for people who have younger-onset Alzheimer's because differing diagnoses from health care professionals can greatly impact a person's ability to obtain disability benefits. Even though younger-onset Alzheimer's appears on the Compassionate Allowances list, which can lead to a fast-tracked application, a misdiagnosis could mean that an applicant has to wait for a determination, possibly even seeing their claim denied even though they have a legitimate claim for benefits.

In order to see a successful application for benefits, an individual must first get an accurate diagnosis from a medical professional. The next step may be to obtain a lawyer, especially if an individual is experiencing issues applying. With the help of a lawyer, an applicant has a better chance at presenting the right information to the Administration and seeing their application successfully work its way through the system as well.

Sources: The Alzheimer's Association, "Social Security Disability," Accessed May 13, 2015

The Alzheimer's Association, "Younger/Early Onset Alzheimer's and Dementia," Accessed May 13, 2015

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