Alzheimer’s disease is a form of dementia that tends to have as profound an impact on the lives of family members and loved ones as it does on the memory, thinking and behavior of those who suffer from it. The most common type of Alzheimer’s (late onset) occurs after the age of 60 and tends to get gradually worse over time. With the less common type (early onset), symptoms appear before age 60 but tend to get worse quickly rather than gradually.
Approximately 5.4 million Americans have been diagnosed with the disease, including an estimated 200,000 people under age 65 who suffer from the early onset type. In 2010, the debilitating nature of this disease led the Social Security Administration to include Alzheimer’s disease as one of the qualifying conditions and disorders eligible for its “Compassionate Allowances” program.
As we’ve mentioned in previous posts, the Compassionate Allowances program fast-tracks the disability applications of people with physical or mental conditions deemed so severe that they automatically qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income benefits.
In real terms, this reduces the “ordinary” process that often takes 18 months or more for most applicants down to only a few days or weeks. This has enormously helpful for those affected — particularly when you consider the extraordinary costs most families have to pay to care for loved ones who have Alzheimer’s.
Since the SSA launched the Compassionate Allowances program in 2008, the streamlined review process has resulted in the speedy approval of more than 170,000 disability benefits applications while the list of different qualifying conditions and disorders has expanded from 50 to 165.
Source: Patriot Ledger, “SSDI fast tracking for Alzheimer’s,” Joan Wright, Sept. 19, 2012