If you or someone you love has Alzheimer’s disease, you may be eligible for Social Security disability benefits. The Social Security Administration (SSA) 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 you’re unable to work due to a disability and you’re eligible for early retirement (ages 62-65), we always recommend applying for disability first. If you’re 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, you’ll take reduced benefits.
This unfortunately means that most people who are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease will be ineligible for Social Security disability, as they’ll already be at their full retirement age. On the plus side, qualification is very easy if you have Early Onset Alzheimer’s disease.
Medical Eligibility for Social Security Disability
The SSA uses its own medical guide, known colloquially as the Blue Book, when determining who’s eligible for Social Security benefits. Early Onset Alzheimer’s is listed as a qualifying condition in the Blue Book. In fact, you’ll qualify for Social Security disability with only a diagnosis.
Early Onset Alzheimer’s so clearly warrants approval, your claim’s processing will be expedited. This occurs under the Compassionate Allowance Initiative. The SSA will automatically flag some applications for conditions that will almost certainly meet the medical criteria needed for approval. When you apply for Social Security with Early Onset Alzheimer’s, you should be approved within just a couple of weeks.
Keep in mind that while your claim will be approved quickly, it will still take a full five months for your monthly payments to begin.
Starting Your Application
If you’re ready to apply for Social Security disability benefits, the easiest place to do so will be online on the SSA’s website. You can save your process to be completed at a later time if you wish. If you’d rather apply with the help of a Social Security representative, you can make an appointment to apply in person at your closest SSA office. Call the SSA toll free at 1-800-772-1213 to make an appointment to apply in person.
A claim for Early Onset Alzheimer’s should be approved very quickly. Once approved, you can focus on what’s important: your health.
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Written by: Eric Minghella, Outreach Specialist, Disability Benefits Help