The Alzheimer’s Association – Greater Illinois Chapter applauds the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) landmark decision to add Young-Onset Alzheimer’s to the Compassionate Care Initiative. The initiative identifies debilitating diseases and medical conditions that meet the SSA’s disability standards for Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Inclusion in the initiative allows for faster payment of Social Security benefits to individuals with Alzheimer’s disease. Social Security Commissioner Michael Astrue and the SSA are to be highly praised for understanding that the cognitive impairment caused by Alzheimer’s disease leaves individuals unable to maintain gainful employment and deserving of an expedited disability determination.
The July 2009 Compassionate Allowance Hearing on Early-Onset Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias, held in Chicago, included testimony from Harry Johns, President and CEO of the National Alzheimer’s Association, and several of the nation’s top Alzheimer researchers, and caregivers and individuals with early-onset Alzheimer’s who discussed the challenges they faced during the disability application process. During the day-long hearing, SSA officials heard about the terminal nature of Alzheimer’s, the disabilities that often prohibit work in even the earliest stages of the disease, and the lack of effective treatments to modify or halt the progression of Alzheimer’s. Advocates from Illinois were paramount in getting young-onset Alzheimer’s disease added to the initiative.
“Until the SSA’s decision, individuals with early-onset (younger-onset) Alzheimer’s disease faced a number of challenges when applying for SSDI or SSI, include a long decision process, initial denials and multiple appeals,” said Nicole Batsch, director of early stage and support services for the Greater Illinois Chapter. “So many of our clients will benefit from this decision. Due to their early-onset diagnosis, no longer being able to work has an overwhelming impact on their family’s financial situation.
“ In addition to participation in the hearing, as many as 600 people with Alzheimer’s and other dementias and their caregivers responded to the Association’s request to submit written comments to SSA about their experiences applying for disability benefits. A sample of these comments are posted on SSA’s Compassionate Allowances website.
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