Applying for Disability Benefits In The USA

4 Sep, 2013 by

Applying for Disability Benefits In The USA

A guide to applying for Disability Benefits for an individual with Dementia in the United States by Ram Meyyappan from Social Security Disability Help.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Applying for Disability Benefits for an individual with Dementia in the United States

Most cases of Dementia occur in individuals who are over the age of 65. However, there are several types of early onset dementia that affect people under the age of 65 such as  early onset Alzheimer’s Disease, vascular dementia, frontotemporal dementia and many other forms.

Social Security Disability benefits are available to legal residents of the United States who are under the age of 65 and are unable to work due to their dementia. Those over the age of 65 will not be eligible for disability benefits, since they qualify for retirement benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA).

The Social Security Disability Programs

There are two different programs through which an individual suffering from dementia can receive benefits.

The first program is called Social Security Disability Insurance, or SSDI. This program is meant for individuals with a strong work history. In order to qualify for SSDI, you must have worked at a job at which you paid taxes for 5 out of the last 10 years. If you are not old enough to have worked for 10 years, then you must have worked for at least half of the time since you turned 18.

The other option is a welfare program. It’s called Supplemental Security Income, or SSI. SSI benefits are available to anyone who becomes disabled, regardless of work history, as long as income and assets fall below certain limits. For more information on the income and asset limits, visit: http://www.socialsecurity.gov/ssi/text-eligibility-ussi.htm

In order to qualify for either program, you must first demonstrate that you’re disabled. To do this, you must prove your dementia is so severe that it prevents you from working at a job at which you earn at least $1,040 per month.

Once you have proven that you meet either the criteria for SSI or SSDI, you will have to prove that your dementia medically qualifies for disability as well.

Dementia in the Blue Book

The SSA uses a manual of conditions called Blue Book to evaluate whether or not a condition medically qualifies for disability benefits. Dementia by itself is not listed in the Blue Book, however there are numerous conditions listed in the book that cause dementia. Some of these conditions are: Early Onset Alzheimer’s, Parkinsonian Syndrome, Lewy Body Dementia, etc.

Most forms of dementia that qualify for disability are listed in the organic mental disorders section of the blue book. For more information on how to qualify with an organic mental disorder, please visit: http://www.ssa.gov/disability/professionals/bluebook/12.00-MentalDisorders-Adult.htm

The Disability Application Process

Applying for Social Security disability benefits is a step-by-step process. The first task is completing the application itself. This can be accomplished in person, over the phone, via mail or online. However, if you are applying on behalf of an individual with dementia, you will have to appear in person to do so.

You will be receive a decision on your application within 3 to 6 months. Don’t be discouraged if your application is initially denied. More than 60% of disability applications are initially denied. If your application is among the denied, you will have to request a reconsideration within 60 days of receiving your denial notice. Unfortunately most reconsideration requests are denied as well.

The next step in the process is the disability hearing. This is the step at which most applicants are approved for benefits. Unfortunately, it takes more than a year to have a hearing scheduled in some states. During the disability hearing you will have to prove to an administrative law judge (ALJ) that you qualify for disability. If you have not already hired a disability attorney or advocate, you should strongly consider doing so before attending your hearing.

The Compassionate Allowance Program

In 2008, the SSA recognized that it is not feasible for individuals suffering from certain disabling conditions to wait 3 to 6 months to receive a decision on their claim. Thus, the SSA instituted the Compassionate Allowances program to speed up the application process for individuals within very severe conditions. Individuals with a condition that qualify for a compassionate allowance will receive a decision within a few weeks. Many conditions that cause dementia qualify for a compassionate allowance exception. These conditions include:

  • ALS/Parkinsonism Dementia Complex
  • Early Onset Alzheimer’s Disease
  • Frontotemporal Dementia
  • Lewy Body Dementia
  • Mixed Dementias

For more information on the compassionate allowances program and a complete list of conditions that qualify, visit: http://www.disability-benefits-help.org/compassionate-allowances

Article by Ram Meyyappan
Social Security Disability Help
www.disability-benefits-help.org/blog

 

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