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Aging, Alzheimer's symptoms and SSD benefits

Last week we wrote about how there is a strong connection between aging and disability claims. It is not rocket science; the older someone gets, particularly after 50, the more the chances of developing disabling conditions increase.

This week, let's apply that reasoning to a specific condition, namely Alzheimer's disease.

As we explained in our February 14 post, the Social Security Administration (SSA) has already added early-onset Alzheimer's to the conditions covered in the SSA's Compassionate Allowances program. That program provides a possibility for expedited access to the application process for Social Security disability (SSD) benefits.

How common is it to have early-onset of Alzheimer's?

Overall, it is unusual to have a confirmed Alzheimer's diagnosis before the age of 65. Though it does happen sometimes, even to people in their 50s, it is relatively rare.

After age 65, however, it is a different story. Among people 65 and older, 1 in 8 people has begun to show signs of Alzheimer's disease. This means that behind the uneasy jokes about "senior moments" there is a serious potential problem lurking for many people regarding memory issues.

Compared to octogenarians, people who are in their 60s are still what is commonly called "young old." After age 85, however, the number of people dealing with Alzheimer's symptoms reaches 45 percent.

The bottom line, then, is that, in round figures, the number of Americans with Alzheimer's disease exceeds 5 million.

Full-blown Alzheimer's disease is of course a human tragedy. It robs people of crucial memories, leaving them stranded in the moment and often unable to recognize even their closest relatives.

But it is also a huge financial challenge, trying to find the resources to care for people with such severe memory issues.

Source: Chicago Tribune, "Planning for Alzheimer's: Take Steps early to ease financial burden," Kimberly Lankford (Kiplinger's), Nov. 20, 2013

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