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'Compassionate allowance list' can mean fast-track to benefits

Almost every knows someone touched by Alzheimer's. Whether it was your best friend's grandmother, your father or maybe even your spouse. The story is never a happy ending. Alzheimer's is a cruel disease.

Family members are left to care for another sick family member wasting away until there is no recognizable trait in their personality any more. Often, victims of this disease become prisoners in their body. Across the country, including in New Jersey, family members will struggle to take care of their ailing family member stricken with Alzheimer's until the funds run out and they must return to work.

For this reason, in 2010 the Social Security Administration added Alzheimer's as one of 165 diseases allowed on the list of "compassionate allowance." Where normally, an individual filing for benefits could have to wait months to be processed, those suffering with a disease or condition listed on the "compassionate allowance list" can be processed in as little as a few days.

Nationally, an estimated 5.4 million individuals are afflicted with Alzheimer's. Additionally, an estimated 200,000 Americans younger than 65 years old suffer from early-onset Alzheimer's. For many victims of this disease, the deterioration is so severe that they are unable to work and earn an income. Social Security Disability Insurance benefits are crucial for such individuals.

The process of applying for Social Security Disability can be confusing. Retaining an experienced legal advocate can assist an individual in ensuring that they receive their due benefits. For some, the benefits received in the wake of being diagnosed with Alzheimer's can be a beacon of hope in an unsure time.

Source: Patriot Ledger, "SSDI fast tracking for Alzheimer's," Joan Wright, Sept. 19, 2012

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