Early-onset Alzheimer’s disease is one of 38 degenerative conditions included in the Social Security Administration’s new Compassionate Allowances program. This fast-tracking system is designed to aid younger patients and their families in moving quickly from diagnosis to benefits. Expediting this process aids in reducing stress associated with waiting for the lengthy approval process, and trying to plan the next stages of life while in a state of limbo. Many of these younger patients–most in their 30s and 40s–are still working and have more extensive financial responsibilities than the traditional Alzheimer’s patient. More typical Alzheimer’s patients are in their mid-to-late 60s, retired, and also too young to be receiving Social Security retirement benefits in some cases.
Effective March 1, 2010, the Administration will be able to electronically target and make prompt decisions in the best interest of the disabled patients. In the past, when a younger patient began experiencing the cognitive limitations, they were not traditionally tested for Alzheimer’s disease. Instead, they were thought to be suffering from job and life-related stress. This issue added to the lengthy process of identifying the correct diagnosis and than being approved for disability benefits. With this new program, it is estimated that tens of thousands of younger Alzheimer’s sufferers will now qualify in a matter of days rather than the traditional months or years it often took in the past.
According to the Administration, approximately 200,000 people under the age of 65 currently suffer from the symptoms of early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. Due to the sheer volume of potential benefit applicants, the Administration will also benefit from this new program as it will reduce the time and effort of the appeals process that in the past would contribute to slowing down the system for every patient.