Millions of Americans suffer from a form of dementia, whether Alzheimer’s or a more general dementia.
For those afflicted, performing even simple tasks can be difficult and maintaining gainful employment becomes nearly impossible.
Although most people with dementia won’t experience symptoms until after 65, a small but significant minority will begin showing signs much earlier – sometimes as young as 40 – with what’s known as early-onset dementia.
Because those with early-onset dementia are not old enough to start drawing social security, many will attempt to apply for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) if they are no longer able to work.
Here’s some basic information about applying for SSDI with early-on set dementia, and what applicants need to demonstrate for their application to be approved.
Is it possible? Yes. The SSA outlines their criteria for neurocognitive disorders in section 12.02.
What applicants need to show
Under section 12.02, dementia applicants must meet two sets of criteria.
Firstly, they must demonstrate that they have experienced a decline in one of the following:
- learning and remembering (note that short-term memory affects the ability to learn)
- planning and judgment
- using language (ability to recall words, use words properly)
- paying attention to tasks or listening to others
- social judgment (ability to know proper social behavior in differing circumstances), or
- physical coordination.
Secondly, they must demonstrate that, due to a decline in one of the above areas, they’re having difficulty:
- understanding, remembering, or using information (ability to understand instructions, learn new things, apply new knowledge to tasks)
- concentrating on tasks and being able to complete tasks (at a reasonable pace)
- adapting or managing oneself (being aware of normal hazards and taking appropriate precautions, adapting to changes, having practical personal skills), and
- interacting with others.
What else needs to be provided?
Of course, merely the applicant’s word won’t pass muster with the SSA. Usually, the testimony of a physician and the submission of certain neurophysiological test results will be required before the SSA will formerly approve the application.
Navigating the SSDI process is challenging. There are many factors at play, any of which could be the difference between approval and rejection.
For this reason, it’s critical to have an experienced SSDI attorney by your side from the outset. They’re intimately familiar with the SSA’s standards and can pinpoint the evidence necessary to obtain benefits for their client.
Furthermore, if a claim is rejected, they can provide a vigorous defense of their client’s rights before an administrative law judge.