People affected by dementia disability face the enormous challenges of living with the disorder, while at the same time they and their families struggle to apply for and obtain disability benefits.
Dementia, in all of its forms including Alzheimer’s disease, is an emotionally and financially draining event in the lives of all involved.
Does Dementia Qualify as a Disability?
People suffering from dementia have deeply impaired intellectual functioning that disrupts normal activities and relationships. The effects of dementia are ruinous to a person’s ability to earn a living; therefore, dementia is recognized as a disabling condition by Social Security and the Department of Veterans Affairs, and many long-term disability insurance policies.
You may be searching for help for a loved one who suffers from this disabling condition, but efforts for claiming disability benefits have failed. We can help.
Please call our attorneys toll free at 800-562-9830 and ask a lawyer a question about your dementia disability claim now.
Causes of Dementia
Dementia is not one singular disease, but a term used to describe a group of symptoms caused by disorders that alter the brain, resulting in the impairment of memory and thought processes.
There are many different causes of dementia. The most prevalent cause is Alzheimer’s disease, followed by vascular dementia (strokes to the brain.)
Other causes include:
- various diseases such as Pick disease (or frontotemporal dementia), Parkinson’s disease, Lewy body dementia, and Huntington’s disease
- infections of the brain (meningitis, encephalitis, Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, and later stage HIV/AIDS)
- head injuries
- brain tumors
- anoxia or hypoxia (insufficient supply of oxygen to the brain)
- heart and lung problems.
- deficiencies in nutrition
- drugs reactions or abuse
Symptoms of Dementia Disability
Often the first sign of dementia is short-term memory loss. The person may have trouble finding words, forget what they were doing, or lose things. Familiar tasks become hard, such as driving, balancing a checkbook, or cooking. They may exhibit poor judgment, confusion, or disorientation.
As time passes, previous symptoms may worsen to the point that the person becomes unable to carry out most daily activities. Severe dementia renders the patient totally dependent on others, and patients often exhibit personality changes, behavioral disorders, delusions, hallucinations and extreme agitation.
Claiming Dementia Disability on a Long Term Disability Insurance Policy
Long term disability (LTD) insurance policies often restrict benefits for mental conditions with some form of limitation. Mental disorders are typically designated with a specific clause such as “mental or nervous disorder.”
In these cases, the benefits are limited to 12 to 24 months. Insurance companies may try to fit dementia disability claimants into this category, even though the patient’s illness may be a physical disorder of the brain. In fact, additional physical disorders may accompany the underlying dementia, which can possibly strengthen your claim.
Disability insurance companies may also fail to perform a proper vocational analysis.
Insurance carriers often refute disability claims for dementia by saying the patient is not sufficiently infirmed—when actually the insurer does not take all of the patient’s documented physical and mental disabilities into consideration.
For example, a common practice is to rely instead on paid medical consultants who may never talk with the patient or examine the claimant in person.
Our attorneys will review the terms of your policy and evaluate your denied claim. We will answer all of your questions, and can help you or your family member appeal the denial and move forward.
Our knowledge of long term disability insurance, the insurance companies, and their tactics will bring balance and justice to your fight against an unfair insurance claim denial.
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) for Dementia Disability
In 2008, the Social Security Administration launched a program for people suffering from disabilities so serious that they cannot wait months or years before receiving benefits. The program is the Compassionate Allowances (CAL) Program.
At this time, there are currently 100 impairments listed for Compassionate Allowances. These impairments obviously and automatically meet SSDI standards, and include the following forms of dementia disability:
- Early-Onset Alzheimer’s Disease (the person is younger than age 65)
- Frontotemporal Dementia (FTD) – also known as Picks Disease -Type A
- Mixed Dementia – Dementia due to multiple causes
- Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD) – Adult
Disability claims for CAL conditions are quickly acted upon by Social Security to ensure quick processing.
Although dementia disability automatically qualifies for SSDI, the filing process and preparation of documentation is more than the patient can handle. Medical records must meet specific criteria, including critical test results. The claimant must have a verified diagnosis and full medical documentation from their physician.
Individuals with early onset dementia often are not aware they have a disability, or they are not aware they are eligible for SSDI – therefore they never apply or apply very late.
If you encounter any difficulty with the SSDI process, we are able to assist you. Proper representation from a Board Certified Social Security disability attorney will help you get the claim on track, expedite the process even more, and ensure that no mistakes are made.
If you applied for SSDI benefits before dementia and Alzheimer’s disease were added to the list of Compassionate Allowances, your claim may have been either delayed or denied. We can help you fast-track the process for reconsideration, hearing, or appeal.
Veterans with Dementia Disability
The Department of Veterans Affairs rates disability claims for dementia as they rate any other disability, which is according to occupational and social impairment.
In the VA Schedule for Rating Disabilities, dementia is listed under the section for Mental Disorders, in the listing for Delirium, Dementia, and Amnestic and Other Cognitive Disorders.
The listing includes:
- Dementia due to infection (such as HIV infection or syphilis)
- Dementia caused by head trauma
- Vascular dementia
- Dementia of unknown origin
- Dementia caused by other conditions (Pick’s disease, brain tumors, metabolic and endocrine disorders)
- Dementia caused by drugs, alcohol, or poisons
- Organic mental disorders, including personality change due to a general medical condition
Traumatic brain injuries account for over half of all combat-related injuries affecting veterans. Studies have shown a link between head trauma and the development of dementia. Many veterans returning from the trauma of combat often struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). These veterans may also be at increased risk of dementia in later years.
If you have been denied VA disability benefits for dementia, or your disability rating is too low, we will evaluate your claim to determine the facts of your case. Our veterans claim attorneys will expertly assess your claim denial, or your disability rating entitlement, at no cost to you.
In all matters of Veterans disability benefits, we are able to take the matter before all levels of the VA disability system.
When Benefits Are Denied, Do Not Give Up Hope – Contact Our Disability Attorneys
Request a free consultation with a lawyer to discuss winning the fight for your dementia disability benefits.
Whether your fight for benefits involves a Social Security Disability claim, Veterans benefits, or a long-term disability claim, you can depend on Marc Whitehead & Associates for compassionate and dedicated representation.