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ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE & WINNING SSD

WHAT IS ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE?

Alzheimer’s disease is a brain condition that damages memory, thinking, and behavior. It progresses over time and makes it hard for you to lead a normal life and to work. Alzheimer’s disease is the leading cause of dementia. It accounts for almost 60-70% of all dementia cases. Learn more about other forms of dementia.

Alzheimer’s disease primarily affects older adults. However, it can start in people who are in their 40s and 50s. The disease was first described by German doctor Alois Alzheimer in 1906. Dr. Alzheimer reported “A peculiar severe disease process of the cerebral cortex” to a meeting of other doctors.

He described a 50 year old woman whom he followed for five years for paranoia, sleep and memory problems, and confusion, until her death. His report noted plaques and neurofibrillary tangles in the brain. Alzheimer died in 1915, at age 51, long before his name became a household word.

Alzheimer's disease word cloud

Alzheimer’s disease causes abnormal protein deposits to grow in the brain. Amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles are two important features of the disease. Amyloid plaques are clumps of amyloid protein that builds up between nerve cells. While neurofibrillary tangles are twisted fibers of the protein that build up within nerve cells.

Alzheimer’s disease disrupts neurotransmitters, which send signals between nerve cells in the brain. Neurotransmitter are crucial for memory and learning. When they don’t work, the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease follow.

RISK FACTORS FOR ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE

Several factors contribute to the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Age is the main risk factor. For example, the chances of getting the disease increases after the age of 65. Family history also plays a strong role in whether you will develop the disease. Those individuals with close relatives who have had Alzheimer’s are at a higher risk. Certain genetic factors can also increase your chances of having the disease.

Additionally, your gender may be a factor, as women are more likely than men to develop Alzheimer’s. Lifestyle choices, including heart health, physical activity, and diet, can also increase your risk. Conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and head injuries may also contribute to your chances of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

Famous individuals who have had Alzheimer’s disease include country music star Glen Campbell. He continued to perform his music while ill, but died from the disease in 2017. President Ronald Reagan also had Alzheimer’s disease. He claimed his memory problems from the disease kept him from remembering details about the Iran-Contra affair. Rita Hayworth and Tony Bennett are two other famous people who died from Alzheimer’s disease. Interestingly, Mr. Bennett had trouble carrying on conversations. But, he had no trouble with lyrics when he sang.

Justice Sandra Day O’Conner left the Supreme Court to care for her husband who had Alzheimer’s disease. She is the only Justice who ever left the Court to care for a spouse. For 15 years after Mr. O’Conner’s diagnosis, the couple carried on a normal life. But by early 2000, Mr. O’Conner could not be left alone. So, as the New York Times states, Justice O’Conner began bringing him to her chambers and he would spend the day sitting quietly in her office. Sadly, Justice O’Conner died in 2023, also due to dementia.

THE STAGES AND TREATMENT FOR ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE

Alzheimer’s disease progresses in stages. In the early stages, you may have mild memory issues. These issues may only be noticed by you. But, as time goes on, the symptoms of the disease become more severe. For example, the symptoms will start impacting your daily life and ability to work. In the later stages, you may become completely dependent on others for care.

There is currently no cure for Alzheimer’s disease. However, there are treatments. For example, there are medications that can help manage symptoms. They can also slow the progress of the disease for some people.

In terms of medications, scientists are taking aim at the amyloid plaques that clump in the brain that are a symptom of the disease. Some medicines mimic the antibodies your body naturally makes to stop the plaques from forming.

Likewise, some medications are being used to boost the performance of chemicals in the brain that carry information from one brain cell to another cell. However, this form of medication, while it may improve memory loss, does not stop the decline and death of brain cells. As more cells die, the disease gets worse. Other scientists think that reducing inflammation may help the immune system to protect the brain from harmful proteins.

Another interesting treatment is being studied which links the heart and blood vessel health to the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Damage to the heart, including high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke and diabetes may connect to greater risk of developing the disease. For example, the Mayo Clinic reports that some medications which reduce high blood pressure may also benefit people with Alzheimer’s disease. Additionally, scientists have found that cognitive and physical exercise can benefit those with the disease.

HOW THE SSA LOOKS AT ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE

The Social Security Administration (SSA) recognizes that Alzheimer’s disease is a severe medical condition that keeps you from working. To qualify for SSDI benefits, you will need to prove a number of symptoms. For example, your medical records will need to show that you are having problems with your:

  • Ability to remember or learn new things
  • Ability to communicate or use words correctly
  • Social behavior issues
  • Thinking errors and problems planning
  • Physical abilities

Since Alzheimer’s disease gets worse over time, there is usually not a question about whether the disease will continue for 12 months or longer. In order for the SSA to pay you benefits, your medical condition must last 12 months or more. Instead, the only real question is whether your symptoms meet an SSA listing. Or, if you do not meet or equal a listing, then the SSA will want to know if your symptoms prevent you from working a 40 hour work week.

The listing the SSA uses for Alzheimer’s disease is Listing 12.02.  To meet listing 12.02, you will need medical evidence showing significant decline under the Part A criteria. Next, you will need your doctor to explain in writing that your have one extreme or two marked impairments under Part B. Learn more about proving the Part B criteria. In the alternative, you can also win SSD benefits by meeting the Part C criteria.

THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN SSDI AND SSI BENEFITS

If you have Alzheimer’s disease, then you should apply for SSDI and SSI benefits. The following paragraphs explain the differences between SSDI and SSI benefits.

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI):  

SSDI benefits are for those who have worked and can no longer work at any job due to their medical condition. The amount of money you will receive from SSDI benefits is based on how much Social Security tax you have paid during your work history.

To qualify for SSDI, you must have earned enough “work credits” to qualify. A work credit is an amount of taxable income. You can earn up to 4 work credits per year. The amount of work credits you will need will depend on how old you are when you apply. If you haven’t earned enough work credits for your age at the time you apply, then you can only file for Supplemental Security Income benefits.

SSDI benefits come with Medicare. Learn about information about Medicare benefits.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI):  

SSI is a needs based benefit. It is for those people with little to no income, such as children and the elderly. Anyone who makes more than a certain amount of money per month cannot receive SSI benefits. The SSA counts the income of those in your house, not just your income and assets.

If you have a spouse who earns more than $4000 a month, for example, then that income will prevent you from getting SSI benefits. You cannot be paid SSI benefits, no matter how severe your medical condition, if you do not meet the income and asset rules for SSI. SSI benefits come with Medicaid. Learn more information about Medicaid benefits.

You can file an application for both SSDI and SSI benefits online at Social Security’s website. Applying is easy to do. However, if you need help, then we can help you. Find out more about filing for SSD benefits.

THE SYMPTOMS OF ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE

The symptoms of Alzheimer’s change based on whether you have “early onset” Alzheimers, or if you are in the later stages of the disease. Early symptoms can be seen in a number of ways. For example, you will have trouble with abstract thinking, decision making, emotional behavior, memory, language, perception and personality.

Alzheimer’s disease gets worse over time. As the symptoms become more serious it effects your ability to perform basic tasks. For example, you may have trouble paying your bills or lose interest in your favorite hobbies. You might struggle at work to follow instructions, learn new information, or complete tasks. Given time, your symptoms will become worse and as the disease advances you will no longer be able to work.

If you have Alzheimer’s disease, then you qualify for Social Security benefits under Blue Book Section 12.02 Mental Disorders. The Blue Book lists physical and mental conditions for which the Social Security Administration (SSA) will pay benefits.

YOUR RESIDUAL FUNCTIONAL CAPACITY 

In many cases, Alzheimer’s directly affects your ability to perform the job duties necessary to complete a 40 hour work week. However, having Alzheimer’s disease is not enough to automatically qualify for Social Security  benefits.

In order to figure out your physical residual functional capacity, the SSA will examine your medical records. They will take into account what your doctor states in your medical records about your condition. Also, the SSA will review any statements from your doctors about your ability to work.

Additionally, they have their own doctors that review your medical records. These doctors never meet or examine you. Also, they are paid by the government and work for DDS, the state agency who reviews all cases. The SSA will take the medical opinion of these doctors into account too. Likewise, if they need more information, they may send you to an exam with one of their doctors. Learn more here about what to expect at SSA’s doctor exam.

The SSA will also consider descriptions about your limits from your family, neighbors and friends. Find out more information about what types of evidence the SSA must consider in your SSD case. For example, your family or friends could write a statement about your mental and physical symptoms. Find out more here about RFC and how, along with age, it can keep you from working. Also, find out more about SSA’s Medical Vocational Guidelines .

COMPASSIONATE ALLOWANCE FOR EARLY ONSET ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE

Early onset Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) is Alzheimer’s disease that is found in a person who is younger than age 65.  Five to ten percent of all patients with Alzheimer’s disease are early onset cases.

The beginning of early onset Alzheimer’s disease is subtle. Memory problems are usually the first sign. The next symptoms are learning and language issues. Because people with early onset AD are often working, it is not unusual for the disease to show itself as a decline or loss in the ability to do work tasks.

Additionally, depression is a common complaint. In later stages, there are other severe symptoms. For example, you may experience personality and mood changes. Also, you may experience behavior changes, like periods of anger or wanting to withdraw from others.

The SSA grants these cases under their special program that allows for a quicker case review. If you have early onset Alzheimer’s Disease, then contact our law office. We will make sure the SSA processes your case quickly and get the medical evidence they need to see.

WHAT WE DO TO HELP YOU WIN SSD BENEFITS

You do not need to try to win SSD benefits by yourself. We can help file your SSD application. Also, we can help you appeal every SSA denial. For example, our attorneys and staff can:

If you file your application for benefits online at Social Security’s website, then you have 6 months to complete the application. Try not to take that long to finish it. Once you submit your application online, the SSA sends you an application summary in the mail. You must sign the summary and mail it back. If you need help to file your application, then we will help you.

IS IT WORTH THE ATTORNEY FEE TO HIRE AN SSD LAWYER?

It isn’t easy to get Social Security benefits and the application process can be frustrating for most people. But, having an attorney throughout the five step SSA review process can make it easier. It is our belief that when you have a law firm with experience handling your Social Security case, the SSA makes sure that they follow their own procedures.

Additionally, when you have an attorney with legal experience, they will have access to Social Security’s decisions throughout the process. They can also submit medical evidence that may be missing from your case.

There is evidence that hiring an attorney with the proper experience raises your chances of winning your SSDI and SSI benefits by 30%. It is also smart to hire an attorney to help you at your hearing. After all, you are the star witness at your hearing. If you hire an attorney with experience, they can prepare you to be a good witness at your hearing. Learn more about how to prepare for your SSD hearing.

HOW WILL YOU PAY THE ATTORNEY FEE?

We will use our legal skills to help you through the Social Security appeal process. It is our goal to win your case. But, it also our goal to make the appeal process easier for you.

We offer a free review of your case. If you call, then there is no pressure to become our client. You ask questions, we answer. Even if we don’t accept your case, we will still try to help you.

It also doesn’t cost you any upfront money to hire us. Why? Because you only pay us an attorney fee if we win your case. If we win, then the SSA pays us out of your back benefits. Learn more about past due benefits. If you do not win, then you do not pay an attorney fee.

How much is the attorney fee? The attorney fee is whatever is less between 25% of your back benefit and the fee cap. This is best understood through an example. If your back benefit is $10,000, then your attorney fee would be $2500.

However, if your past due benefit is $100,000, then you would not pay 25% or $25,000 in attorney fees. Instead, you would pay the amount of the fee cap. The fee cap is $7200. Therefore, if we win your case, then your fee is capped at the $7200 amount.

Regardless, you pay whatever is less between 25% of your back benefit and the fee cap. Additionally, you only owe an attorney fee if and when we win your case. Find out more about what it will cost to hire an SSD attorney.

WIN SSD BENEFITS FOR ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE

Under SSA’s rules, each mental condition has its own listing. To meet a listing, the SSA considers only the elements under that specific listing. If you meet the listing, then you should be paid benefits. Equaling the listing, however, allows the SSA to consider the combination of all of your severe conditions, including physical conditions. If you have Alzheimer’s disease, then you will have a combination of both mental and physical symptoms.

Hire us. We know how to prove to the SSA that you should be paid benefits. Our legal team prepares you for success. During your case, we collect your medical records. All you have to do is get ongoing treatment from your doctor. Medical records from your treating sources will prove you deserve benefits. Medical records and the support of your doctor will prove your case.

We know you need monthly SSD benefits to replace your income. Over the past 30 years, we have won over 20,000 SSDI and SSI cases. We want to win your case too. Contact us today. Ask for your free review of your case. Let us help you win SSDI and SSI benefits for Alzheimer’s disease.

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