What Is A Reasonable Accommodation
How would you proceed if you are diagnosed with Alzheimers and believe you could continue to work if you had some accommodations in your work setting?
The Job Accommodation Network , a service of the U.S. Department of Labor, cites some general examples of reasonable accommodations, including restructuring jobs, making work-sites and workstations accessible, modifying schedules, providing services such as interpreters, and modifying equipment and policies.
For someone with Alzheimers, the options for accommodations are numerous, but some might include:
- Incorporating reminders into their day written or verbal
- Dividing large tasks into many smaller tasks
- Providing additional training when there are workplace changes
- Keeping the workspace clutter free
- Reducing the number of hours worked per day or week
- Changing the time of day worked
Ssd Benefits For Alzheimers And Dementia
There are an estimated 5.3 million Americans suffering from Alzheimers disease. When a loved one is suffering from Alzheimers or dementia, one of the last things you want to worry about is whether or not they will qualify for Social Security Disability benefits. Many have few financial options other than the Social Security and SSI disability program and its medical insurance benefits. At Patrick Kelly Law, our social security benefits lawyer near Albany is here to help make obtaining these benefits as easy and as stress-free as possible.
Impairments Of Alzheimers And Dementia
Many of those who have either Alzheimers, dementia, or a combination of the two, are over age 65. Earlier diagnosis means this fatal disease now touches a significant number of younger people. Many symptoms of these diseases affect the part of the brain that controls memory, reasoning, judgment, and behavior. This leaves those suffering with little capacity to function beyond the basic task of everyday life. Those who have more serious side effects or have had Alzheimers or dementia for longer may be completely dependent on a caretaker for even the most basic of tasks such as eating and going to the bathroom.
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Getting An Accurate Diagnosis
â with young onset is that dementia is not something that they think about initially. If youâre a woman, the first thing they think about is menopause and depression and anxiety and panic and sleep disorders and all those kinds of things.â â Faye, from Windsor Junction, Nova Scotia. Faye lives with young onset Alzheimer’s disease.
Diagnosing dementia can be a long and complicated process. For younger people, itâs even more complicated and frustrating. Healthcare providers are often reluctant to diagnose dementia in someone so young, and itâs common for a person who has young onset dementia to be misdiagnosed with another condition, such as depression.
As a a result, the person living with young onset dementia may not get the appropriate knowledge, treatment and support to fight the disease.
Medically Qualifying For Disability With Alzheimers
The SSA has a special program, called theCompassionate Allowances program , that allows claimants with certain disabilities to get a faster approval for benefits without having to weight several months. When the right documentationis provided, an individual with a condition on the CAL list can be approved in a few weeks. There are 88 conditions included on the CAL and one of them isEarly-onset Alzheimers Disease. You will need to provide documentation that supports your claim, and you will also need to indicate that it is a CAL claim.
Early-onset Alzheimers Disease is the most common kind of dementia, being blamed for anywhere from 50% to 70% of all dementia cases in the United States. The brain is attacked, and the symptoms will worsen as the condition progresses over time. Certain kinds of nerve cells in different brain areas are destroyed, causing decline in reasoning ability, cognitive skills, verbal communications, and judgment. These lead to memory loss, disorientation, communication difficulties, difficulty making decisions, mood swings, distrust in others, depression, and personality changes.
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Arguments That Apply In Early Onset Alzheimers Cases
I advise my clients that there are three arguments that can apply when you are trying to win a Social Security disability case. These three arguments are:
- meet a listing
- meet a grid rule
- prove that your functional capacity is so impaired that you would not be a reliable worker
Lets consider each of these arguments in detail:
Facts About Social Security Disability For Alzheimers Disease
Alzheimers disease is a degenerative neurological health condition that affects the brain and results in slow progressive cognitive decline. Short term memory loss is usually the first indication of Alzheimers, which becomes even more evident as the condition worsens. With time, the Alzheimers will affect different aspects of a persons life like behavior, speech, problem-solving and general recognition abilities. Theres currently no known cure of Alzheimers with it being the sixth leading cause of deaths in the states.
Symptoms are manageable via therapies, lifestyle changes and medications to slow down the progression of the disease and improve life quality. If you or your loved one has Alzheimers disease, applying for Social Security disability benefits can really help you out. So how do you know youre eligible and qualify to get Social Security Disability for Alzheimers?
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Using Your Rfc To Determine If You Can Work
First the SSA will use your RFC assessment to determine whether you can perform your past work. If you cannot, the SSA will use your RFC plus your age, education level, and work skills to see if you can do any jobs in the national economy. The SSA will use its Medical-Vocational Guidelines, which are often illustrated as a grid showing what age, education, and skill groups are deemed disabled at each RFC level. The med-voc grid shows that if you are over age 50, it is more likely that the SSA will find you cannot perform any jobs and will be found disabled. For more information, see our article on getting disability through the medical-vocational guidelines.
What Is Alzheimers Disease
Alzheimers disease occurs when brain cells, or neurons, become damaged and die, resulting in shrinkage and deterioration of the brain. While the exact cause of Alzheimers is not known, abnormal behavior by brain proteins disrupts the function of neurons, damaging them and breaking with their connections to each other, ultimately resulting in their death. This is a slow process that happens over time, sometimes beginning years before the first signs and symptoms of Alzheimers disease develop.
Alzheimers often starts in the areas of the brain pertaining to memory. Memory loss is typically among the first symptoms of Alzheimers, specifically the loss of newer memories such as recent conversations or events. Neuron loss then begins to affect other, deeper, parts of the brain. This results in the loss of other cognitive abilities. The deterioration of the brain caused by Alzheimers is irreversible and can result not only in loss of memory, but also in loss of thinking, reasoning, and social skills, personality changes, and even physical impairment.
It is important to note that while the majority of cases of Alzheimers disease occur in people over the age of 65, early-onset Alzheimers can occur in people in their 30s, 40s, or 50s. It typically progresses in the same manner as late-onset Alzheimers. Early-onset Alzheimers is heavily due to genetics, while later onset Alzheimers may be a combination of age, environment, and lifestyle habits in addition to genetics.
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Qualifying For Disability If You Have Dementia
The Social Security Administration will find you disabled if you meet the requirements of an official disability “listing” in the SSA’s listing of impairments, or if your disability has reduced your functioning so much that you can’t do your past work or other work. Meeting the requirements of a disability listing is the simplest and quickest way to qualify for disability benefits.
The listing most commonly associated with dementia is disability listing 12.02, neurocognitive disorders. This listing was updated significantly in 2017 . To meet this listing today, you need medical evidence showing that your abilities have significantly declined in one or more of the following areas:
- learning and remembering
- planning and judgment
- using language
- paying attention to tasks or listening to others
- social judgment , or
- physical coordination.
If your records show that you have a significant decline in one of the above areas, the SSA will look to see whether your functioning is severely limited by this decline. Specifically, you must have either an extreme limitation in one of the following areas or a “marked” limitation in two of the following areas:
- understanding, remembering, or using information
- concentrating on tasks and being able to complete tasks
- adapting or managing oneself , and
- interacting with others.
If You Have Some Form Of Dementia It Is Likely You Have Poor Memory And Attention Skills And Are Unable To Perform Any Type Of Work
The Social Security Administration recognizes dementia as an impairment in two different sections of its Blue Book. Section 12. Mental Disorders evaluates dementia of the Alzheimer type, vascular dementia, and dementia due to a metabolic disease. Section 11. Neurological Disorders evaluates cases of early onset Alzheimers disease .
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Young Onset Vs Early Stage
It’s important to know that term “young onset dementia” does not mean the early stage of dementia. While most people diagnosed with young onset dementia are likely experiencing mild symptoms that indicate they are in the early stage, “young onset” and “early stage” have different meanings. A 57-year-old living with young onset dementia could already be in the late stage, while a 80-year-old just diagnosed with dementia might be in the early stage.
It’s also important to note that young onset dementia encompasses all types of dementia. If a person is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease â the most common type of dementia âunder the age of 65, then that person can be said to have young onset Alzheimer’s disease. Likewise, if a person is diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia under 65, then that person has young onset frontotemporal dementia.
However, each person living with young onset dementia has their own preferred term to describe their dementia â ask them what they prefer!
Qualifying For Disability With Early
The trouble is that, while it is an accepted disorder on the SSAs list of compassionate allowancesmeaning that it has a streamlined application processmental disorders like Alzheimers can be very difficult to prove, especially in their early stages.
To qualify for disability with early-onset Alzheimers, you need to have clinical evidence/documentation of a progressive dementia condition. However, the initial symptoms of early-onset AD arent usually very obvious.
As noted by the SSA, the onset of AD is subtle because people with early-onset AD are often in the work force, it is not uncommon for the disease to first manifest as a decline or loss in their ability to perform work-related activities. This can lead to misdiagnosis of AD as a less severe condition.
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Expedited Processing Of Early
Diagnosis of early-onset Alzheimers disease happens when a person exhibits symptoms of the disease before age 65. It usually affects people between ages 40 and 50. The SSA most recently updated its list of Compassionate Allowance conditions to include early-onset Alzheimers disease. Processing of the applicants disability claim will be fast-tracked and is usually approved within a matter of weeks. Its crucial to point out the exact diagnosis is early-onset Alzheimers disease on the application form to make it easy for the SSA to approve the application. Through this expedited process, applicants suffering from the disease wont undergo the hassle of denials and appeals as the condition gets worse.
The SSA has a particular criterion for when Alzheimers can be considered to be a disability, but an early-onset prognosis usually gets fast-tracked under the SSAs Compassionate Allowance program. Its not always guaranteed for your disability claim to be approved, which is why you need the services of a disability advocate to assist you with all the intricacies of the application process. He/she will assist you in structuring your information in such a way an adjudicator can easily understand.
Determining Your Residual Functional Capacity
If your mental condition does not meet or equal a disability listing, the SSA will assess your “residual functional capacity” based on all of the evidence you have submitted. Your RFC is the limit of what you can physically and mentally do while working a 40-hour work week.
Physically, you might be limited to sedentary, light, or medium work. Mentally, you might be limited to simple, semi-skilled, or skilled positions. Dementia patients will likely have poor memory and attention skills, so your doctor might limit you to simple, unskilled work. If your cognitive skills have significantly declined, you might be unable to perform any work and be found disabled merely on this basis alone. Similarly, you might suffer from personality changes that affect your ability to work with others. In this scenario, you might be restricted from jobs requiring close contact with the public, co-workers, or supervisors.
In addition, if you are currently taking any medication for treatment of dementia, these drugs could cause side effects including drowsiness or fatigue. The SSA has explained in its Social Security Rulings that fatigue may limit your ability to perform physical demands. If you suffer from fatigue, you might be restricted to only sedentary or light work.
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Key Points About Early
Alzheimer disease commonly affects older people, but early-onset Alzheimer disease can affect people in their 30s or 40s.
It affects memory, thinking, and behavior.
Although there is no known cure, early diagnosis and treatment can lead to better quality of life.
Stay healthy with a good diet and regular exercise.
Avoid alcohol and other substances that may affect memory, thinking, and behavior.
Getting Connected To Services After Diagnosis
â said, âOh, this is great, we have a diagnosis, what do we do now? Is there a pill, orâ¦?â And this is when the doctor said: âNo, thereâs no pill, thereâs nothing that we can do at all,â and youâll have to basically âgo home, get your affairs in order because you will die from this.ââ â from Ontario. Mary Beth lives with young onset frontotemporal dementia.
Even after an accurate diagnosis is made, a younger person with dementia is still likely to face obstacles. These obstacles may start with being unable to get more information about dementia or find referral to dementia-focused programs and services in their community.
We know that many people living with dementia go on to live very fulfilling lives for quite some time. Unfortunately, due to lack of knowledge and training, some healthcare providers still seem to offer little hope or support for life after diagnosis.
However, even if their doctor is helpful and can suggest practical next steps, there is another significant obstacle for the person diagnosed with young onset dementia to overcome.
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Qualifying For Social Security Disability With Alzheimers Disease
If you or someone you love has Alzheimers disease, you may be eligible for Social Security disability benefits. The Social Security Administration offers monthly benefits to people who are no longer able to work due to a serious disability. You may be eligible for financial aid to help pay for any medical costs, childcare, in-home nursing, rent or a mortgage, or any other of your financial needs.
Technical Eligibility for Social Security
While the SSA offers both disability and retirement benefits, the two programs are different from one another. You cannot receive Social Security disability once you are eligible for Social Security retirement. This means that you cannot supplement your monthly retirement benefits with disability benefits, regardless of your diagnosis.
If youre unable to work due to a disability and youre eligible for early retirement , we always recommend applying for disability first. If youre approved for disability benefits your monthly payments will be whatever you could have received on retirement had you been able to continue employment. If you take early retirement, youll take reduced benefits.
This unfortunately means that most people who are diagnosed with Alzheimers disease will be ineligible for Social Security disability, as theyll already be at their full retirement age. On the plus side, qualification is very easy if you have Early Onset Alzheimers disease.
Medical Eligibility for Social Security Disability
Starting Your Application
How To Qualify For Social Security Disability Benefits
You may qualify for Social Security disability benefits if you meet the requirements in one of the Listings of Impairments sections, your disability is equal in severity to a section in the Listing of Impairments, or you are unable to work because of your disability.
Some people with early-onset dementia meet the requirements in Section 12.02 of the Listing of Impairments. To qualify pursuant to Section 12.02, you must meet the requirements in Section A of the listing, which requires medical documentation of a significant cognitive decline from a prior level of functioning in one or more of the following six cognitive areas:
- Complex attention
- Social cognition
Additionally, you must meet either the requirements of either Section B or Section C.
Section B requires that you suffer an extreme limitation of one of the following or a marked limitation of two of the following areas of mental functioning:
- Understanding, remembering, or applying information
- Interacting with others
- Concentrating, persisting, or maintaining pace
- Adapting or managing oneself
Alternatively, Section C requires that your disorder be serious and consistent. For this section, you must have a medically documented history of the early-onset dementia over at least a two-year period and evidence of both:
- Medical treatment or a highly structured setting that is ongoing and that diminished symptoms and signs of your early-onset dementia
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