We are accustomed to think of Alzheimer’s disease as an illness of older people. That’s why it’s other, older names—“senior dementia” and “second childhood”—suggest the typical patient as elderly. In fact, most people with Alzheimer’s disease first show symptoms after the age of 60.
However, a significant fraction of sufferers have a condition called early-onset Alzheimer’s disease (EOAD), a form of dementia that strikes at a relatively young age. Like other forms of Alzheimer’s disease, EOAD shows the following symptoms:
- A progressive and irreversible decay in memory and thinking skills
- Progressive erosion of the ability to carry on basic activities of daily living
- Increasing language and communication difficulties
- Unpredictable and sometimes irrational behavior
- Increased irritability in early stages; passivity in later stages
- Distinctive changes in brain tissue (identifiable only after death)
Early-onset Alzheimer’s disease is uniquely tragic, even among other dementias, because it saps the vitality of people who are often otherwise in prime health. It’s common for EOAD cases to progress very quickly, inflicting a devastating toll on the lives of family members and caretakers.
Social Security Disability and Early-Onset Alzheimer’s Disease
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is a program run by the federal government that provides monthly benefits to people with strong work histories who are no longer able to hold down a job. Most people with Alzheimer’s disease are not able to qualify for Social Security disability because they are too old to receive SSDI benefits; only Social Security retirement benefits are available for people age 62 and older.
But early-onset Alzheimer’s disease often strikes people in their fifties or younger. Because of the incapacitating nature of EOAD, people who suffer from this illness get priority attention to their applications for Social Security disability under the Compassionate Allowances program. Social Security’s administrators recognized that it is unreasonable and cruel to expect someone with severe cognitive challenges to wait months for an application to be processed. The Compassionate Allowances review for early-onset Alzheimer’s disease can be completed in a few weeks, once all the relevant medical information is sent to the proper Social Security office.
The SSDI Benefits Your Relative Needs to Live
If you have a close relative who is suffering from early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, it is important that you act quickly to secure the best available future for your family member. Even with the Compassionate Allowances program in place, it is not automatic that a person with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease will be awarded benefits; an incomplete or inaccurate application can still mean a rejection.
At the Harrisburg office of Schmidt Kramer, we have helped hundreds of people qualify for SSDI by preparing their applications or filing appeals when benefits are denied. If you don’t know where to turn or if you just have a few questions about the application process, our SSDI attorneys should be your first call. Contact us at 717-888-8888 or (717) 888-8888 toll-free for a FREE case review.