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DEMENTIA & DISABILITY BENEFITS

WHAT IS DEMENTIA?

Dementia is not a specific disease. Instead, dementia is a group of impairments that effect your brain’s neurological health. For example, you may have dementia if you have memory loss and poor judgment over a period of time.  Additionally, dementia usually involves a progressive decline in your cognitive function, memory, and language skills. Dementia interferes with your ability to perform daily functions. Also, it can also affect your personality.

Dementia can be disabling. However, for the SSA to find you eligible for benefits, it needs to prevent you from working for more than 12 months. If you cannot work 40 hours a week due to your dementia symptoms, you should apply for Social Security Disability (SSD/SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. You can apply online at Social Security’s website. Applying is easy to do. However, if you need help, we can help you apply. Find out more about applying for benefits here.

In the United States alone, there are more than 3 million cases of Dementia. According to the World Health Organization, there are currently more than 55 million people living with dementia in the world. Dementia is a common disease. Obviously, the cost of the condition grows as the world’s populations ages. When you have dementia, the cost to you and your family is high.

DEMENTIA STATISTICS WORLDWIDE

The Economist reports there are so many people living with dementia that there is “no way they can be humanely looked after.” Dementia typically causes people to lose the ability to care for themselves. Globally, the Economist states, many require round-the-clock care long before they die. This has a huge impact on people with dementia, but also for those who provide their health care.

Additionally, throughout the world, dementia has a disproportionate impact on women. Sixty-five percent of total deaths due to dementia are women. Similarly, disability-adjusted life years due to dementia are roughly 60% higher in women than in men. Additionally, women provide the majority of care for people living with dementia, accounting for 70% of carer hours.

Once a person reaches 69 years of age, the risk of developing dementia doubles every five years. Currently, over 55 million people have dementia. Therefore, that number will rise to 82 million people by 2030. That number will reach 150 million people by 2050. The reason the number is expected to double is that global populations are growing and people are living longer. Dementia can impair you at any age, but it mostly effects older people.

3D render of a male medical figure with front of the brain highlighted with dementia

CAUSES OF DEMENTIA

A variety of medical conditions can cause dementia. The most common conditions that case dementia are Alzheimer’s disease, traumatic brain injuries, and stroke. Go here for more information about stroke and disability benefits. Although dementia is more likely to occur in elderly patients, the onset of dementia symptoms can occur at any age. Your doctor can send you to a specialist who can give you a neuropsychological evaluation to determine whether you have dementia. If you believe you have the following signs and symptoms of dementia, ask your doctor to test you.

EARLY SIGNS OF DEMENTIA

SHORT-TERM MEMORY CHANGES

Having trouble with memory can be an early symptom of dementia. The signs of dementia are often subtle and tend to involve short-term memory. A person with dementia may be able to remember events from their past that took place years ago, but not what they had for lunch.

A person with dementia may also display other changes in their short-term memory, such as:

  • constantly forgetting where they placed items
  • struggling to remember why they entered a particular room
  • forgetting what they were supposed to do on any given day

Many of us experience these types of memory issues. However, you should be concerned if you experience these impairments on an ongoing basis. If you have memory problems from traumatic brain injury, then you need to read about IQ issues and disability benefits.

DIFFICULTY FINDING WORDS

Another early symptom of dementia is difficulty with communicating thoughts. If you have dementia, then you may have a hard time explaining something or finding the right words to express yourself. Your friends or family may tell you that you stop in the middle of a sentence and don’t know how to continue. You may also find yourself doing this. Symptoms like this also occur if you have a Traumatic Brain Injury. Read more about Traumatic Brain Injury symptoms here.

CHANGES IN MOOD

A change in mood is also common with dementia. If you have dementia, then it may not be easy for your to recognize your mood changes. However, other people, like your family or friends, may tell you that your mood is abnormal for you. Depression, for instance, is common in the early stages of dementia. Find out more about the symptoms of Depression here.

UNUSUAL CONFUSION

If you are in the early stages of dementia, then you may often feel confused. For example, you may have trouble remembering faces or phone numbers you have always known. You may also have difficulty remembering what day or month it is. It is also common to become lost while driving in a neighborhood know well. Similarly, you may have trouble finding your own home after you leave the store.

An example of dementia’s mental confusion from one of our clients stand out. In court, the judge asked him if he had trouble finding his car when he came out of the store. “No,” he said, “I have trouble remembering what kind of car I drive. Before I look for the car, I have to call my daughter and ask her what kind of car I drive, so that I can look for it. Once I find it, I can drive home.” This is an example of how dementia causes confusion and memory impairment.

THE STAGES OF DEMENTIA

EARLY STAGE

Tthe early stage of dementia is often overlooked because the onset is gradual. Common symptoms may include:

  • forgetfulness
  • losing track of the time
  • becoming lost in familiar places.

MIDDLE STAGE

As dementia progresses to the middle stage, the signs and symptoms become more obvious. The middle-stage symptoms may include:

  • forgetting recent events and people’s names
  • becoming confused while at home
  • difficulty with communication
  • needing help with personal care
  • experiencing behaviour changes, including wandering and repeating questions

LATE STAGE

The late stage of dementia is one of total dependence. Memory disturbances are serious and the physical signs and symptoms are very obvious and may include:

  • becoming unaware of the time and place
  • difficulty recognizing relatives and friends
  • increasing need for assistance with self-care
  • difficulty walking
  • behaviour changes, such as aggression and paranoia

TREATMENT FOR DEMENTIA

There is currently no treatment available to cure dementia. Anti-dementia medicines and are primarily used for Alzheimer’s disease. However, numerous new treatments are in various stages of clinical trials.

Additionally, there are many options to improve the lives of people with dementia, their caregivers and their families. The principal goals for dementia care are:

  • early diagnosis in order to promote optimal disease management
  • optimizing physical health, cognition, activity and well-being
  • identifying and treating accompanying physical illness
  • understanding and managing behaviour changes
  • providing information and long-term support to caregivers

It is important, when considering treatment options, that you talk with your doctor. Your treatment options need to work for your and your family.

SSA’S USES LISTING 12.02 TO FIND DISABILITY FOR DEMENTIA

The listing the SSA uses for dementia is Listing 12.02 for neurocognitive disorders.  To meet listing 12.02, you 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. In the alternative, you can also win SSD benefits by meeting the Part C criteria.

12.02 Neurocognitive disorders, satisfied by A and B, or A and C:

  1. Medical documentation of a significant cognitive decline from a prior level of functioning in one or more of the cognitive areas:
    1. Complex attention;
    2. Executive function;
    3. Learning and memory;
    4. Language;
    5. Perceptual-motor; or
    6. Social cognition.

AND

  1. Extreme limitation of one, or marked limitation of two, of the following areas of mental functioning (see 12.00F):
    1. Understand, remember, or apply information (see 12.00E1).
    2. Interact with others (see 12.00E2).
    3. Concentrate, persist, or maintain pace (see 12.00E3).
    4. Adapt or manage oneself (see 12.00E4).

OR

  1. Your mental disorder in this listing category is “serious and persistent;” that is, you have a medically documented history of the existence of the disorder over a period of at least 2 years, and there is evidence of both:
    1. Medical treatment, mental health therapy, psychosocial support(s), or a highly structured setting(s) that is ongoing and that diminishes the symptoms and signs of your mental disorder (see 12.00G2b); and
    2. Marginal adjustment, that is, you have minimal capacity to adapt to changes in your environment or to demands that are not already part of your daily life (see 12.00G2c).

If you have dementia symptoms, to the level outlined in listing 12.02, you should meet the SSA criteria and be eligible for disability benefits. SSA considers dementia in a different category than intellectual disability. Find out more about IQ issues and intellectual disability here.

DEMENTIA AND COMPASSIONATE ALLOWANCES

The Social Security Administration has a program called the Compassionate Allowances (CAL) program. The Compassionate Allowances (CAL) program is a way to expedite your Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Social Security Income (SSI) claim. This program is for claimants whose medical conditions are so severe that they clearly meet Social Security’s definition of disability. The following neurological diseases are currently found under the Compassionate Allowance program:

  • Early-onset Alzheimer’s disease
  • Adult-onset Huntington disease
  • Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD)
  • Frontotemporal dementia (FTD), Pick’s disease – Type A
  • Lewy body dementia
  • Mixed Dementia
  • Primary Progressive Aphasia (PPA)
  • Progressive Supranuclear Palsy (PSP)
  • The ALS Parkinsonism Dementia Complex

COMPASSIONATE ALLOWANCE FOR EARLY-ONSET ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE

Early-onset Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) is the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease for 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 impairment is typically the earliest sign. The next impairments are learning and language impairments. Because people with early-onset AD are often working, it is not uncommon for the disease to first manifest itself as a decline or loss in the ability to do work tasks.

In the earlier stages of AD, depression is a common complaint. In later stages, there are other severe symptoms. For example, you may experience agitation and personality and mood changes. Also, you may experience behavior changes, restlessness, and withdrawal from others.

DEMENTIA AND disability

MIXED DEMENTIA – THE COMBINATION OF VASCULAR DEMENTIA ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE

Mixed Dementias are conditions with more than one cause for the dementia. The combination of Vascular dementia and Alzheimer’s disease (VaD) is the most common form of mixed dementia.

The vascular component includes focal ischemic infarcts (strokes) and subcortical ischemic vascular disease. These may cause major focal neurological deficits such as aphasia, apraxia, or agnosia. Other motor impairments may occur. For example, you could experience paralysis, gait impairment, or Parkinsonian syndrome.

You will know if you have the Alzheimer’s component because it is characterized by a progressive decline of your cognitive abilities in relation to your previous level of functioning. Mixed dementias are defined by progressive and persistent intellectual decline compromising at least two spheres of cognition. For example, you would need decline in two of the following categories: memory, orientation, language, attention, executive abilities. You may may also have motor and gait impairment, depressive symptoms, sleep trouble, and incontinence.

DIAGNOSIS OF MIXED DEMENTIAS

There is no special clinical test for the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease. Diagnosis can only be proven by brain biopsy or by a postmortem examination of the brain. Neuroimaging, like a CT scan or MRI, is useful to show vascular lesions, such as infarcts. Imaging is also helpful because it can exclude other causes of dementia, some of which may be treatable.

Individuals with mixed dementias experience a gradual but relentless decline in cognitive functioning over a period of many years, usually about a decade. The vascular component of the disease may be marked by shorter episodes of abrupt deterioration.

There is no treatment to slow the progression of the Alzheimer’s mixed dementia. Doctors can only treat the symptoms. Treatment may include drugs such as antioxidants and antipsychotics. Other treatment includes sedatives and antidepressant drugs. Managing high blood pressure through diet, exercise, and medication decreases your risk for cerebrovascular disease. This is the most effective approach to prevent brain infarcts and mixed dementias.

HIRE AN ATTORNEY WITH EXPERIENCE

If you cannot work, your dementia disability case will dictate the money you have to support yourself in the future. Likewise, it will impact the money you need to support your family. Therefore, you need to hire a law firm that cares about your future benefits. Cannon Disability Law is one of the best disability firms in the country. We are known as one of the best Social Security Disability firms in Las Vegas, Nevada and Salt Lake City, Utah.

The representatives at Cannon Disability Law are also members of the National Organization of Social Security Claimant’s Representatives. Learn more about Utah SSD benefits here. Nevada Disability Information can also be found on this website. If you are from California, our website has California disability information. However, we can represent you no matter where you live.

HOW MUCH DOES IT COST?

If you hire us to help you with your dementia case, how much is the attorney fee? It is 25% of your back benefit. But, the fee is capped at $6000. You do not pay more than the cap of $6000. And, 25% is usually less than the $6000 cap. You will pay either 25% of the back benefit or the $6000 cap. You pay whatever is the lesser amount. For example, if your back benefit was $100,000, our attorney fee would be $6000, not $25,000. Or, if your benefit was $10,000, then you would pay 25% of the back benefit. That would be $2500.

If there are costs in your case, then you pay for those costs. But the costs are usually less than $100. You must also pay to obtain a copy of your medical records. The cost of your medical records is whatever your doctor charges for them. You owe costs whether we win or lose your case. But, to hire most lawyers, you have to pay a fee upfront. However, you can’t do that because you don’t have a job. That is why you only pay an attorney fee to us if we win your SSD and SSI case.

THE REPRESENTATIVES AT CANNON DISABILITY LAW

At Cannon Disability Law, we can help you apply for benefits if you have disabling dementia. In our office, we have specialists who will help you complete your application. Usually, we help you file your application online on Social Security’s website. If you receive a denial, then we can help you appeal it.

Likewise, if you have a scheduled hearing, then we represent you at your hearing before a disability judge. One of the things we do is help you be a good witness at your hearing. We meet with your before the hearing. At the meeting, we talk about how to answer questions in court. We also let you know what kind of questions you will be asked. If your dementia is too severe for you to answer questions, we can help your family testify for you. Learn more about your disability hearing here.

There are many law firms that claim they practice Social Security disability law. However, most of those firms do other types of cases. For example, some firms practice personal injury or Worker’s Compensation law. We don’t do that. Our firm only takes Social Security disability cases. We don’t practice any other kind of law. Our firm believes it is important to focus on Social Security cases, because that is our specialty. Find out more here about how long a disability case takes.

EXPERIENCE WINS SSD & SSI BENEFITS FOR DEMENTIA

It is hard to trust your future to a lawyer you don’t know yet. That is why our website includes information about our attorneys. Dianna Cannon has practiced disability law for the past 30 years. She has written a book about Social Security law. Brett Bunkall and Andria Summers have over 30 years of combined legal experience.

Our attorneys and staff work hard for our clients every day, focusing exclusively on disability law. Find out more about the representatives at Cannon Disability on our About Us page.

The best thing about hiring us is we take care of your case. This is particularly important if you are in the later stages of dementia. For example, we have specialists who will help you apply for SSD and SSI benefits. We can help you apply online at the Social Security website.

If you need help filing out SSA’s paperwork, we can help. Also, we can help you collect your medical records. Likewise, we appeal any SSA denial. If you receive a reconsideration denial, then we request your hearing. After that, we prepare you for court.

We want the disability process to be easier for you, so you don’t have to worry. You have enough to worry about if you are dealing with the symptoms of dementia. Contact us today, we will take care of your dementia disability case.

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