Dementia: Symptoms, Complication, and Disability Benefits
Mental conditions can be devastating, sometimes with a more significant impact on people’s lives than physical ones. Dementia is a condition in which an individual experiences symptoms that affect their thinking processes, memory, and social capabilities, interfering with their daily life.
Dementia is not one particular disease, and there are several mental illnesses and disorders that can cause dementia. Although there are many factors which may contribute to the development of this condition, one of the most prominent symptoms involves memory loss. For example, if you have Alzheimer’s disease you may experience progressive dementia as your disease progresses.
Is dementia a disability?
When you observe firsthand the symptoms and complications of dementia, it makes it easier to understand how much it could affect a person’s life. This significant effect is one of the reasons why dementia can cause many people to become disabled. People with dementia are eligible to receive Supplemental Security Income or Social Security Disability Insurance benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA).
You may observe two types of changes if you are living with this condition. One is cognitive changes, and the other one is psychological changes.
1. Cognitive Changes:
As mentioned earlier, memory loss is a common symptom of dementia. Your family, friends, or colleagues at work may observe that:
- Your visual and spatial abilities have become weaker.
- You get lost while walking or driving to familiar places.
- Your communication capabilities have weakened.
- Reasoning and problem-solving has started to get more difficult for you.
- You face uncharacteristic issues with organization or planning.
- Complex tasks seem hard for you to execute when they used to be routine.
- Motor function and coordination seem harder for you than before.
- You suffer from disorientation and confusion.
2. Psychological Changes:
- You may suffer from overthinking and depression.
- You exhibit signs of anxiety, agitation, or panic attacks.
- Your personality may change, and you may misbehave.
- You may experience paranoia and hallucination.
What Are the Possible Complications From Dementia?
Once you understand the symptoms of dementia, it might be clearer to see how these can lead to the disabilities you may encounter and how they can affect your job and daily activities. You can suffer from other complications, too, because dementia can affect your entire body. This can limit your functionality and cause you to seek disability care for your condition.
- Poor Nutrition:
If you have dementia, you may stop eating, and that could negatively affect your nutrient intake. Poor nutrition can lead to severe problems, immediately and down the line. At a certain point, you may lose your ability to chew or swallow food.
When you lose the ability to chew or swallow properly, you may choke or aspirate food or beverages into your lungs. The foreign material in your lungs can cause pneumonia.
- Personal Safety Issues:
When you have dementia, cooking, driving, or walking alone can become extremely risky, leading to serious safety issues.
- Difficulties in Executing Self-Care Tasks:
You may find difficulties in executing your daily self-care tasks. These may include bathing, eating, dressing, brushing teeth, combing hair, taking medicines, and even using the toilet.
Late-stage dementia increases the risk of death from coma or infection.
Given the severity of these symptoms and complications, it is easy to understand how these issues may get in the way of your personal and working lives. One of the things you can do to make things easier for you when you can no longer work is applying for disability benefits for dementia. The Social Security Administration can help you out by providing you with either Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Income (SSDI), depending on your individual circumstances. Each type of benefit has different requirements you must fulfill.
What Are the Requirements to Qualify for Social Security Benefits?
Before you apply for a disability benefits relating to your dementia, your condition has to have prevented you from being able to work for at least 12 months. If you are not getting any retirement benefits, then you may be eligible to apply for SSDI or SSI.
Next, when you apply for the benefits, the SSA will determine whether you qualify based on the materials that you submit as compared to their list of impairments. They will also consider whether your conditions are severe enough to affect your daily and working life functionalities.
For the SSA to approve you for disability benefits based on dementia, you would have to qualify for the 12.02 neurocognitive disorder listing of disabilities. Your medical records should contain proof that you suffer from one of the ailments listed below. If so, your condition may meet the requirements for disability benefits for dementia:
- You are having difficulties learning and remembering things because of short-term memory issues.
- You experience difficulties when making a decision or executing any form of planning.
- Your language abilities have become impaired, which may include recalling words or using words appropriately.
- You have difficulty paying attention to your daily tasks or listening when others speak.
- You are unable to act properly in social situations, which may include your knowledge and application of social behaviors in varied circumstances.
- You have lost physical coordination or balance.
Next, the SSA will determine whether those conditions limit your functioning severely enough and whether your medical documentation can prove that you are affected in at least two of the following areas:
- You cannot understand, remember, or use information properly, or lose the ability to understand instructions. This may also involve not being able to apply new knowledge to a task or learn any new information.
- You cannot concentrate or execute tasks properly.
- You cannot properly adapt to change or manage yourself by observing hazards in your surroundings and taking precautions accordingly.
- You have trouble interacting with others.
The medical documents to prove these areas may include several areas, such as psychological, neuropsychological, and cognitive. You also are required to show multiple medical visit reports regarding your clinical testing and proof of any hospitalization. Before approving disability for dementia, the Social security Administration will verify all the documents to ensure that only people with actual disabilities receive the benefits. Hiring a seasoned disability benefits lawyer can be a great help, as they have extensive experience handling these types of claims.