An Alzheimers Patient Working a PuzzleYou haven’t yet reached age 65. Yet, your doctor has diagnosed you with early-onset dementia. Early-onset refers to your young age rather than the progression of your disease. As your dementia progresses, you may be forced out of work much sooner than you originally planned to retire. Since you have not yet hit retirement age, Social Security disability benefits may be an option for you.

What to Expect With Early-Onset Dementia

Your doctor will diagnose you with a specific type of early-onset dementia such as early-onset:

  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Vascular dementia
  • Frontotemporal dementia
  • Alcohol-related dementia
  • Dementia with Lewy bodies

People who develop these conditions in their 30s, 40s, or 50s are often working, raising children, and caring for older family members. The diagnosis can be devastating. You can’t work, you can’t care for your loved ones, and you may require significant medical care.

How to Qualify for Social Security Disability Benefits

You may qualify for Social Security disability benefits if you meet the requirements in one of the Listings of Impairment’s sections, your disability is equal in severity to a section in the Listing of Impairments, or you are unable to work because of your disability.

Some people with early-onset dementia meet the requirements in Section 12.02 of the Listing of Impairments. To qualify pursuant to Section 12.02, you must meet the requirements in Section A of the listing, which requires medical documentation of a significant cognitive decline from a prior level of functioning in one or more of the following six cognitive areas:

  • Complex attention
  • Executive functioning
  • Learning and memory
  • Language
  • Perceptual-motor
  • Social cognition

Additionally, you must meet either the requirements of either Section B or Section C.

Section B requires that you suffer an extreme limitation of one of the following or a marked limitation of two of the following areas of mental functioning:

  • Understanding, remembering, or applying information
  • Interacting with others
  • Concentrating, persisting, or maintaining pace
  • Adapting or managing oneself

Alternatively, Section C requires that your disorder be serious and consistent. For this section, you must have a medically documented history of the early-onset dementia over at least a two-year period and evidence of both:

  • Medical treatment or a highly structured setting that is ongoing and that diminished symptoms and signs of your early-onset dementia
  • Marginal adjustment or minimal capacity to adapt to changes in your environment or to demands that are not already part of your daily life

Even if you don’t meet the exact requirements of this listing, you may qualify for benefits if your condition is equal in severity to any Blue Book listing or if you lack the residual functional capacity to engage in substantial gainful activity.

Furthermore, if you have been diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, then you may qualify for the Social Security disability’s compassionate allowances program. You don’t need to apply for the compassionate allowances program. Instead, when you file your initial Social Security disability application, your application will be flagged as one that qualifies for the compassionate allowances program, and the eligibility decision should be made more quickly.

Talk to a Social Security Disability Lawyer Before You Submit a Disability Application

Many initial Social Security disability applications for people with early-onset dementia are denied, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. Yet, many of the applications that were initially denied get approved on appeal.

You need the benefits now. A complete, honest, easy to understand Social Security disability application with all of the required documentation gives you a better chance of having your application approved without going through an appeal.

Our lawyers can help you, or your loved one, through the initial Social Security disability application process, and if necessary, on appeal.

Contact us today for a free consultation about your rights if you or your loved one have early-onset dementia and want to apply for Social Security disability benefits in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, or New Hampshire. We would be happy to help you through the process with as little stress as possible so that you can continue contributing to and concentrating on your family.

Are You Looking for a Social Security Disability Attorney in Boston, MA?

If you are looking to apply for social security disability, you need to speak with an experienced social security disability lawyer as soon as possible. Please contact us online or call our Natick Office directly at 508.283.5500 to schedule your free consultation.


John L. Keefe
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Founding Attorney, Massachusetts Social Security Disability Lawyer