Today, there are nearly 5.4 million Americans living with Alzheimer’s disease. While most people associate the disease with old age, there are 200,000 Americans under the age of 65 living with it today. As with all forms of the disease, Early Onset Alzheimer’s is a progressive, terminal disease, which cannot be prevented, cured or even slowed.
Since the onset can occur in people as early as their thirties and forties, it often strikes during an individual’s prime working years, and as the disease progresses it prevents gainful employment. As a result, individuals are coming to grips with a devastating diagnosis all while losing employment and the salary and benefits that come with being employed. These individuals and their caregivers then must figure out how they will pay for their care.
Thankfully, since 2010 Social Security has helped by adding Alzheimer’s disease to its Compassionate Allowances Initiative. The initiative identifies debilitating diseases and medical conditions so severe they obviously meet Social Security’s disability standards. Compassionate Allowances allow for faster payment of Social Security benefits to individuals with Alzheimer’s disease, mixed-dementia and Primary Progressive Aphasia.
The inclusion of Alzheimer’s disease in Social Security’s Compassionate Allowances has had a profound impact on the Alzheimer’s community, helping thousands of families including Tom and Julie Allen. Tom was looking for a way to help manage the costs of Julie’s Alzheimer’s care, since his retirement and two part-time jobs were not enough to cover the large costs of Alzheimer’s disease. Through the Alzheimer’s Association and Social Security, he was able to apply for disability benefits for Julie.
Social Security benefits are very important to individuals with early-onset who are unable to work and have no other source of income. At the Alzheimer’s Association, we hear from family caregivers about the challenges they face paying for care. As was the case with Tom, the financial complications fall to the caregiver as well as finding the day-to-day care solutions. That is just one of the reasons why we celebrate November as National Family Caregiver Month and we take time to honor the 15 million caregivers for those living with Alzheimer’s disease.
To learn more about how Social Security disability insurance works, visit Social Security’s disability page and visit Social Security’s Compassionate Allowances page nyhttps://ssa.gov/compassionateallowances/ to learn more about other medical conditions under the Compassionate Allowances Initiative. The Alzheimer’s Association is also here to help, visit www.alz.org (see external link disclaimer below) or call our 24/7 Call Center at 1-800-272-3900 for additional support.