In 2021 alone, the Social Security Administration (SSA) awarded 30,064 workers benefits for mental disorders, like Alzheimer’s. If your Alzheimer’s is severe enough to interfere with your ability to work, you may be eligible for monthly payments and free healthcare through the SSA.
Still, disability benefits are complicated — and it can be a challenge to make sense of how the SSA evaluates your eligibility. We’ll break down, in laymen’s terms, when Alzheimer's qualifies for disability benefits — and how to apply, and get approved for, disability with Alzheimer's.
We've also created an easy, 2-minute disability quiz that'll give you instant insight into your eligibility. After you take it, you’ll have the opportunity to talk to one of our client advocates — who can give you further legal advice.
Yes, Alzheimer's is considered a disability. However, you’ll only qualify for benefits through the SSA if your Alzheimer's is so advanced you can no longer work.
The SSA defines Alzheimer's as a neurocognitive disorder that impacts memory. According to the Blue Book — where the SSA lists official conditions and symptoms — workers with Alzheimer’s must show a decline in their cognitive function. This can accompany symptoms like loss of memory, a decrease in executive function (like planning and decision-making), visual-spatial abilities, and impairments to language, speech, vision, judgment, and insight.
If your Alzheimer’s symptoms are advanced enough to prevent you from working, you may qualify for Social Security benefits. You’re more likely to qualify if you’re already seeing a healthcare provider for diagnosis and/or treatment, and if you can provide both medical evidence that shows a change in your cognitive function.
You can also increase your odds of approval by working with a disability lawyer. They’ll be able to advise you on how to best show that your Alzheimer’s meets the SSA’s strict criteria.
Alzheimer’s can impact every area of your personal and professional life. But an Alzheimer’s diagnosis alone isn’t enough to get Social Security disability benefits. The SSA follows official criteria to determine whether or not your Alzheimer’s is severe enough to qualify.
In general, the SSA requires both medical and nonmedical evidence that establishes that you have Alzheimer’s and that it significantly impacts you in a work setting.
Criteria to consider are:
AND, you can prove that through the following:
Your Alzheimer’s is likely advanced enough to be classified as a disability by the SSA if all of the above evidence shows that your cognitive function has declined and it’s become impossible for you to work.
If your Alzheimer’s meets the criteria, you’re ready to apply. Here’s what we suggest:
Apply now if:
Consider waiting and applying later if:
Probably don't apply if:
Whether you apply now or not, get as much medical care as possible. Establishing a relationship with a healthcare provider will make it easier for you to prove the severity of your Alzheimer’s whenever you are ready to apply.
You can also take our free 2-minute disability quiz to find out whether or not you qualify before you apply. If you do qualify, we can connect you with an experienced disability lawyer who can increase your odds of approval. You’ll only have to pay your lawyer if you do get approved for disability benefits.
There are two disability benefits programs available through the SSA. Applying for the right program for your situation is one way you can boost your odds of approval. Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is typically reserved for people who’ve worked at least five of the last ten years, while Supplemental Security Income (SSI) provides coverage for people who don’t have much work history and have little to no monthly income.
The SSA can also approve applicants for both SSDI and SSI. They share the same application, so you can apply for both programs and let the SSA determine which will offer the best benefits for your situation.
The average disability check for workers with neurocognitive disorders like Alzheimer’s is $1,377.36, but your actual monthly payment will vary based on your own work and income history.
It’s important to note, though, that your disability check is capped at a certain amount regardless of how advanced your Alzheimer’s is. The maximum monthly SSDI benefit is $3,627 and the maximum monthly SSI benefit is $914 in 2023.
If your Alzheimer’s doesn’t meet the criteria, don’t give up just yet. It may still be worth applying if you feel you can prove that your Alzheimer’s is interfering with your work.
The reality is that qualifying for disability can be challenging no matter how advanced your condition is. Only 20% of people who apply for disability benefits win their claim on their first application. But perseverance usually pays off, since over half of applicants get approved when they appeal their case in front of a judge.
Check out our step-by-step guide to applying for disability benefits to get more support through the application process.
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