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Is it Hard to Obtain Social Security Disability If You Have Dementia?

August 9, 2021

dementia claimant seeking disability benefits

Living with a disability can be difficult and affect people in different ways. People may be unable to do activities they once enjoyed and/or be unable to earn an income due to physical or mental limitations.

When someone has a disabling condition that prevents them from working, Social Security Disability benefits may be available. Dementia is a condition that progressively gets worse over time. Individuals who meet the requirements set forth by the Social Security Administration (SSA) may qualify for disability.

Dayes Law Firm is ready to review your situation and discuss your eligibility during a consultation at no cost or obligation to you. We do not get paid for our services unless we help you obtain benefits.

Call 1-800-503-2000 to talk to a lawyer.

Understanding Dementia and Its Symptoms

Dementia is a mental health condition that causes a gradual decline in cognitive function. In its advanced stages, it can interfere with your daily life. Dementia is most commonly caused by Alzheimer's disease, which affects parts of the brain that control memory, thought and language.

While dementia generally affects elderly adults, the onset of dementia symptoms can develop at an earlier age when people are in their 30s, 40s, or 50s. These symptoms include:

  • Memory loss
  • Deepening confusion
  • Impaired judgment
  • Mood and personality changes
  • Language problems

People with dementia slowly start to forget things, such as recognizing loved ones, and may become confused about their surroundings on an everyday basis. Doctors diagnose dementia by performing cognitive and neurological tests. Receiving an early diagnosis and getting treatment can help slow the progression of the disease and maintain mental function, but there is no cure for dementia

If you or someone you care about is experiencing symptoms of dementia and cannot work for at least a year or more, you may be eligible to obtain Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits.

Meeting an SSA Disability Listing

The SSA will review your disability claim by conducting a detailed review of your medical records, doctor statements and any other evidence submitted. If your symptoms meet the requirements of an SSA disability listing, this is the easiest and fastest way to become eligible for disability benefits.

The disability listing often linked to dementia is Section 12.02 Neurological Disorders. To meet the criteria in this listing, sufficient medical evidence is needed to show that your ability to at least one of the following has considerably declined due to your condition:

  • Learning and remembering
  • Planning and judgment
  • Understanding, remembering, or applying information
  • Paying attention to tasks or listening to others
  • Recalling words or using words properly
  • Knowing proper social behavior in different situations

Should your records indicate that you have extreme limitations in any of these areas, the SSA will further evaluate if your symptoms have an adverse or severe impact on your mental health. This includes:

  • Understanding instructions, learning new things, or applying new knowledge to tasks
  • Concentrating on tasks and completing these tasks within a sensible pace
  • Adapting or managing oneself, such as adapting to change or taking proper precautions
  • Interacting with others

A Phoenix-based Social Security Disability lawyer at our firm is ready to help gather the medical evidence needed to show that your dementia symptoms are serious and persistent enough for disability benefits.

Assessing Your Residual Functional Capacity

If for some reason your dementia symptoms do not fully meet or equal a disability listing, the SSA will evaluate your residual functional capacity (RFC) given all the evidence submitted. Your RFC will show what basic work activities you are able to perform on a regular basis or during a full-time, 40-hour workweek.

From a physical standpoint, you may be restricted to sedentary, light or medium work. From a mental standpoint, you may be restricted to simple, semi-skilled or skilled positions. For dementia claimants whose cognitive skills have greatly declined, they may be unable to work at all and be deemed disabled.

Suffering from personality changes that impact your capacity to work and interact with others will likely restrict you from jobs that require close contact with customers, co-workers or supervisors.

Medications for dementia treatment can cause adverse effects, like feeling fatigued. If you suffer from fatigue that limits your ability to do physical tasks, you may be limited to sedentary or light work.  

Letters of Support Can Help Your Claim

When assessing your RFC, the SSA will also take into consideration your medical history, cognitive and neurological testing performed and your treating doctor’s opinions. A letter of support from your doctor can go a long way towards qualifying you for disability, particularly if you are appealing a denied claim.   

Supportive letters from loved ones can also be beneficial because they can offer the SSA a look into your capability to interact with others, do daily tasks and focus on these tasks. A statement from a family member or caretaker who has known you for a considerable time can provide detailed information on how your daily functioning has declined over a year or more and why you are unable to work.   

Our Attorneys Are Available to Help 24/7

Claimants with dementia who are seeking disability benefits need experienced legal help on their side. Dayes Law Firm has many years of experience handling all levels of representation from initial claims through all stages of appeal. We are ready to answer your questions in a free consultation. You are not obligated after this meeting to retain our services, but if you do, we charge no upfront fees.  

Get started by calling 1-800-503-2000.

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