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Social Security Disability Experiences
Posted: Thursday, June 20, 2019 4:31 PM
Joined: 2/4/2019
Posts: 5

I was recently diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s.  I’m 58 year old and wanted to know of any other members have experience with applying for Social Security Disability under "The Compassionate Allowances program"?  People tell me that I need to hire an attorney were other said you just need you medical records and go into the local office to file the claim.  Can anyone share their experience with filing claim?

Thank you

Posted: Thursday, June 20, 2019 5:22 PM
Joined: 1/10/2019
Posts: 20

This was my experience: I applied- was denied. Met with an attorney (who was clueless). Met with person at local office who was encouraging.  Appealed on my own (filed at local office with person who was less helpful) and was denied again. Hired an attorney (through disability insurance company) who said compassionate allowance cases are usually pretty straight forward and was looking forward to figuring out why this one wasn’t.  I think it depends how straight forward your medical records are.  Either way- persevere and be ready for a lot of hashing and rehashing all the ways alz has changed your life. I wish you luck.
Posted: Thursday, June 20, 2019 5:50 PM
Joined: 3/7/2012
Posts: 2546

NevadaBrad welcome to the message boards. I'm glad that you've found us. Although sorry you have started the journey no one wants to take. Please take a few minutes to look around the entire website as you will find valuable information besides the message boards.

To address your question specifically several of us have applied for SSDI. It might seem overwhelming, but stick with it. Most claims are denied the first time. In our particular situation I hired an attorney to handle it for us. (We had several major family crisises happening all at once and it was too much for me to even want to tackle.)

If you will go to the top of this page - click on the solutions section. Once on solutions scroll to Legal & Financial Planning. Click on that and the top posting you will see if Planning Ahead for Legal Matters. Click on that and scroll until you see Social Security Disability. Once you open that you will find some good information.

Since you are just beginning this journey be prepared for the first year to be various appointments and phone calls. Keep a record of whom your talking with - it will be helpful if ever your questioned about something. Try to take a deep breath and know we are all here to help you out. As as many questions as you want. Again welcome.


Iris L.
Posted: Thursday, June 20, 2019 6:23 PM
Joined: 12/15/2011
Posts: 16574

Welcome to the boards, NevadaBrad.  Make sure your medical records state that you do have Early Onset Alzheimer's Disease, and not mild cognitive impairment.  Note how this impacts your life, and how you have difficulty with activities of daily living.  Read about "instrumental activities of daily living."  There might be some agencies that will help you with your application without charge.  Even the Social Security Administration can assist you.  A lawyer will charge a set fee.  I was able to obtain my own SSDI benefits without charge on my own, without a lawyer.  But I had to sue my employer in order to obtain private long term disability benefits.

Keep posting, Brad. Call the Helpline of your local chapter for additional help.

Iris L.

Posted: Thursday, June 20, 2019 7:27 PM
Joined: 2/4/2019
Posts: 5

Thank you for sharing with me your experiences.  They are very helpful!
Posted: Thursday, June 20, 2019 9:32 PM
Joined: 4/22/2017
Posts: 322

A diagnosis of early onset AD should do the trick IF your medical records support the diagnosis. Make sure you include medical records that are up to date. Specifically, in order to prevail at the application stage, you MUST have been seen by a medical practitioner within the prior six months of submitting the application.

I was awarded benefits at the initial application with diagnoses of MCI, ADHD, depression, and a few minor physical impairments. (Throw in all diagnoses, just in case.) I submitted all medical records, the ones that supported the diagnosis of MCI and several that did not. I was also careful that the description I provided of my daily routine accurately refected my deficits. For example, since I generally don't cook, I explained that I usually skipped breakfast, ate a sandwich for lunch and a microwaved meal for dinner. The description of the claimant's activities was the most common mistake I saw when reviewing claimants' applications. (In my prior life, there was a period where I represented disabled claimants and also a period where I reviewed disability claims for SSA.)

 IMHO, if you have recent medical records that support the diagnosis of EOAD and you do not stupidly contradict the impact the impairment(s) have on your life, you probably do not need an attorney. 

** Just remembered. The current administration recently rescinded the "Treating Physician Rule". That rule required that the Agency give more weight to a treating physician's opinion than that of a physican who never examined the claimant, i.e. a Social Security physician.

Posted: Tuesday, June 25, 2019 7:42 AM
Joined: 5/22/2016
Posts: 272

I'm a few days late joining into the discussion, but I'll add our experiences.

DH had a probable diagnosis of Alzheimer's when he quit working at age 52.  I decided to use a lawyer for our first filing for disability. The lawyer didn't know anything about the compassionate allowance, although she had worked for SS doing disability approvals for years, I was told. Her fee would be a percentage of any back pay that SS would pay us. She was sure DH would be denied with our first filing.

The lawyer included in the application every ache and pain that we could come up with. A visit to the ER for back pain (probably an overreaction caused by the dementia), ALL past surgeries, every doctor we had visited... it went on and on. I wouldn't have included half what she did if I had done it myself.

DH was approved on the first application. We owed the lawyer nothing, because he was approved before he had been out of work 5 months. There was no back pay to get a percentage of. I can't begin to say how happy I was that we used a lawyer.