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Claims for Early Onset Dementia

By Michelle Shvarts
Principal Attorney

Dementia does not just impact those who have already stopped working due to reaching retirement age. Early-onset dementia claims more people than most might fully be aware of. If you or a loved one are exhibiting signs of early onset dementia and it has impacted your ability to maintain a job, then you might want to try applying for Social Security disability benefits. In order to successfully establish such a claim, the applicant must be objectively diagnosed with a severe and medically determinable impairment preventing them from retaining substantially gainful employment. There are many hurdles to a Social Security Disability claim for early-onset dementia, but they are not insurmountable.

Steps to File a Claim for Early Onset Dementia

One of the first and most prominent hurdles to bringing a disability benefits claim for early onset dementia is establishing the objective diagnosis of a severe and medically determinable impairment. Dementia is a very specialized area of medicine and it is unlikely that a general practitioner will pursue the testing necessary to establish a diagnosis of dementia. Among other things, such testing includes a mental status examination.

In order to get a diagnosis for early onset dementia, it is likely that you will be referred to a neurologist. A neurologist, in turn, is likely to order a number of tests including brain imaging studies. These studies will be used to determine whether there are other, organic causes for the symptoms you have been suffering from. For instance, the studies will be used to verify or rule out whether or not you have suffered a stroke or have a tumor that may be causing cognitive dysfunction.

You may also be referred to a neuropsychologist for evaluation. Again, extensive tests are likely to be ordered and you would undergo a neuropsychological evaluation to have your cognitive function studied. Such an evaluation can take a long time. In fact, it normally takes up to 8 hours to complete. The evaluation would look at the extent of your cognitive deficits in different functional areas. For instance, executive functioning and memory as well as attention and concentration would be evaluated.

If dementia has been established as an appropriate diagnosis, your medical providers are likely to proceed with recommended treatments. There are certain medications on the market currently that can be used to combat the symptoms of dementia. In some cases, medications for dementia have been shown to ease the symptoms of the condition. Once you have been diagnosed and have begun your treatment, your potential for bringing a successful Social Security disability claim for dementia greatly increases. Note, however, that it will be essential to comply with follow-up treatment recommendations as well as continued cognitive testing. This will help support the fact that the condition remains severe and disabling thus preventing you from being able to maintain substantially gainful employment.

Los Angeles Social Security Disability Attorney

If you or a loved one is suffering from early onset dementia, talk to the dedicated team at Disability Advocates about how we can help you pursue a claim for Social Security Disability benefits. Contact us today.

About the Author
Ms. Shvarts is the managing attorney for Disability Advocates Group. She opened Disability Advocates Group to assist individuals who became disabled and unable to work to obtain the benefits they need and deserve.  Ms. Shvarts and the rest of the team at Disability Advocates Group are dedicated to assisting individuals obtain Social Security Disability Benefits (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits.