Adult Male Ponders Future Looking Out Rain Covered WindowA Chicago Social Security attorney can help victims claim disability

Alzheimer’s disease is classified as early-onset when it develops before age 65. About 200,000 Americans suffer from this form of Alzheimer’s. As any Chicago Social Security attorney knows, this disease can cause various disruptive or incapacitating cognitive and behavioral changes. In severe cases, victims may be eligible to receive Social Security Disability benefits.

Disabling changes

During the early stages of Alzheimer’s, victims may experience mild issues concentrating, planning, remembering things and performing mentally challenging tasks. Since early-onset Alzheimer’s is progressive, these symptoms become worse in time. Unfortunately, no treatments can reverse or stop Alzheimer’s.

As early-onset Alzheimer’s advances, victims may lose awareness of their surroundings and forget facts or memories. Some victims experience changes in personality or sleep patterns. Victims might require assistance with activities such as dressing, eating or toileting. Ultimately, victims may lose the ability to control their movements and respond to their environments.

These changes can be burdensome at any age. However, working middle-aged adults facing early-onset Alzheimer’s may especially struggle to handle necessary daily activities. Fortunately, Social Security Disability benefits may be available to adults who cannot work due to this disease.

Establishing disablement

Early-onset Alzheimer’s may be considered disabling if it meets the terms outlined in the Social Security Administration’s “Blue Book.” As any Chicago Social Security attorney is aware, the book includes a listing for organic mental disorders. A person who meets the listing terms and non-medical criteria can qualify for SSD benefits without additional evaluation.

The listing requires victims to document one of seven specific symptoms. These symptoms are memory issues, disorientation, delusions, IQ loss, personality changes, mood disturbances and poor impulse control. If Alzheimer’s has lasted at least two years, victims must also document significant restrictions to functional abilities. Otherwise, in addition to one symptom, victims must document two of the following limitations:

  • Challenges behaving appropriately in social settings
  • Problems completing tasks that require focus, pacing or prolonged effort
  • Difficulty performing regular daily activities
  • Repeated episodes in which symptoms worsen

If early-onset Alzheimer’s does not meet the above criteria, a victim may still seek a medical-vocational allowance. Rather than evaluating set symptoms, the SSA considers the applicant’s unique symptoms and limitations. If the effects of the disease do not reasonably allow for gainful employment, the applicant may receive benefits.

Expedited decisions

Claims involving early-onset Alzheimer’s qualify for expedited processing under the Compassionate Allowances program. As any Chicago Social Security attorney can explain, Compassionate Allowances conditions are generally severe enough to qualify for SSD benefits. A diagnosis of early-onset Alzheimer’s does not guarantee claim approval. However, it does provide grounds for an expedited claim review and decision process.