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Social Security Speeds Disability Benefits for Early-Onset Alzheimer's Disease

  • Synopsis: Published: 2010-02-12 - Alzheimers disease among the medical conditions that will be given automatic approval for disability benefits - Alzheimers Foundation of America.

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Alzheimer's Foundation of America Applauds Social Security for Speeding Disability Benefits for Early-Onset Alzheimer's Disease...

The Alzheimer's Foundation of America (AFA) today applauded the Social Security Administration for including early-onset Alzheimer's disease among the medical conditions that will be given automatic approval for disability benefits, rather than have individuals go through what could be a lengthy qualification process.

"Every minute counts for people with Alzheimer's disease," said Eric J. Hall, AFA's president and chief executive officer. "By fast-tracking the process to obtain benefits, the Social Security Administration is assisting countless younger individuals with Alzheimer's disease and their families whose quality of life depends on this type of support. The Compassionate Allowance will make an enormous difference in enabling affected individuals to move toward managing their diagnosis and planning for the future."

Early-onset Alzheimer's disease is a rarer form of the brain disorder in which symptoms appear prior to age 65, even occurring in individuals in their 30's and 40's. More commonly, Alzheimer's disease affects individuals 65 and older.

Last September, in a comment letter to the Social Security Administration, AFA had pressed for fast-tracking in light of the significant number of individuals with early-onset Alzheimer's disease as well as the additional issues they often face due to their younger age. For example, AFA had noted, they are less likely to be diagnosed because healthcare providers generally don't look for this brain disorder in younger people; and many who are still employed when symptoms emerge are forced to give up work and other responsibilities due to their declining cognitive function.

In its announcement today, the Social Security Administration said that it is adding 38 conditions, including early-onset Alzheimer's disease, to its list of Compassionate Allowances a way of quickly identifying diseases and other medical conditions that clearly qualify for Social Security and Supplemental Security Income disability benefits. It allows the agency to electronically target and make speedy decisions for the most obviously disabled individuals. Electronic identification of the additional conditions begins March 1.

Social Security Commissioner Michael J. Astrue said the expansion means that "tens of thousands of Americans with devastating disabilities will now get approved for benefits in a matter of days rather than months and years."

The Alzheimer's Foundation of America is a nonprofit organization based in New York City that focuses on providing optimal care to individuals with Alzheimer's disease and related illnesses, and their families, and unites 1,200 member organizations nationwide that provide hands-on programs. AFA's services include a toll-free hot line with counseling by licensed social workers, a free caregiver magazine, a National Memory Screening Day initiative and the AFA Quilt to Remember. For information, call 866-AFA-8484 or visit www.alzfdn.org.



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