Yes, according to international conventions and domestic laws, dementia is considered a disability. Living with dementia can be devastating. It can make performing normal daily activities difficult if not impossible. The long-term loss of quality of life is challenging for people living with a disability. Many people who have dementia are unable to work, which can make managing and living with a severe medical condition even more overwhelming.
Fortunately, people who have disabling dementia that is expected to last at least a year may be eligible for disability for dementia from the Social Security Administration (SSA). Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is a program administered by the SSA that supports disabled individuals who have a work history, whether through their own employment or a family member’s.
The SSDI program is a kind of insurance policy managed by the federal government. It is available to people who have paid into the system through prior work that has been taxed by the government. You may be eligible for SSDI aid if your symptoms prevent you from working and you have worked in the past.
Dementia is defined by the National Institute on Aging as “the loss of cognitive functioning—including thinking, remembering, and reasoning—and behavioral abilities to such an extent that it interferes with a person’s daily life and activities.” While the term dementia is often used to describe a specific condition, it is characterized by many types of cognitive disorders.
One common type of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease. This degenerative disease results in a rapid decline in neurological function. People who have Alzheimer’s disease experience a sharp decline in memory function, as well as a host of other issues.
Issues from dementia can include trouble remembering new information, significant changes in mood, change in personality, disorientation, depression, and difficulty interacting with others. Parkinson’s disease can also eventually lead to the condition. Advanced stages of dementia often leave a person unable to recognize loved ones, perform basic hygiene, or recall any information about the past.
The Alzheimer’s category of dementia is irreversible, and it will progressively make a person more disabled. People with Alzheimer’s disease may also experience other types of dementia simultaneously.
An example of mixed dementia is Alzheimer’s disease with vascular dementia, arising from stroke or brain injuries that significantly impact brain function and behavior. People who have vascular dementia may experience a loss of motor skills that will not recover over time.
The Social Security Administration (SSA) has included younger Alzheimer’s or early onset of Alzheimer’s in the list of Compassionate Allowances (CAL). This speeds up the SSA’s procedure of granting Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI).
If you have records showing an inability to perform your daily functions, the SSA may approve your disability disorder for dementia. The SSA looks at whether your ability to perform basic functioning is adversely affected. If the evidence suggests this, then you are likely to get the disability you deserve for dementia.
Although older people are at higher risk of getting dementia, the onset of its symptoms can be seen at any age. If dementia symptoms prevent you from working for more than 12 months or more, then you may be entitled to dementia disability benefits.
You should apply for SSDI or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) for dementia if this situation applies to you. However, obtaining this aid can be incredibly challenging. It requires substantial amounts of supporting documentation and other evidence to demonstrate the extent of your dementia symptoms and how they impact your life.
The SSA denies over half of first-time applications for SSDI benefits. The most common reason for a claim to be rejected is a lack of adequate medical evidence of disability. Since dementia is degenerative and affects cognitive ability, those with any type of dementia should have a representative on their side when filing for disability.
Whether a person is eligible for SSDI due to dementia will depend on whether the individual meets the requirements of the SSA Blue Book under section 12.02 neurocognitive disorders, updated in 2017.
The Blue Book is a list of disabling impairments that claimants must meet to establish their eligibility for Social Security disability benefits. For instance, those with Alzheimer’s will need to prove that they experience frequent memory loss, disorientation, or changes in behavior.
The SSA may consider you disabled if you meet the specific requirements in the listing. If your diagnosed condition is not specifically among those listed in the Blue Book, the SSA may alternatively grant disability based on your residual functional capacity (RFC).
To attain benefits, you should have medical evidence showing your inability in some of the following areas:
Qualifying for dementia disability benefits will depend on several factors. The SSA verifies all aspects of an applicant’s medical and work history before deciding about disability.
Suppose your medical condition does not meet the eligibility criteria of the disability listing. In this case, your RFC would be evaluated. The SSA would analyze all other evidence and your ability (or lack of ability) to work for 40 hours a week. Furthermore, the SSA will also evaluate your physical and mental abilities.
Your physical ability is determined by your capability to do light, sedentary, or medium work. Mental skills are categorized as simple, semi-skilled, and skilled abilities.
As patients with dementia experience poor memory skills, the SSA appoints healthcare professionals to judge their skills. The decline in skills serves as evidence for the disability claim.
Filing a disability claim correctly is not an easy task. Our legal professionals are highly experienced and can help complete the process for you. With us, even appealing denials become hassle-free. At Chermol & Fishman, we have excellent disability attorneys that can help you get the benefits you deserve for your disability due to dementia.
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