A normal degree of memory loss as you age may be common. This could include a general inability to recall past events or just a general forgetfulness. As you age you also may have a difficult time retaining new information or learning new things due to the deterioration of brain cells and neurotransmitters which process and carry messages throughout the brain. The degeneration of these messengers accelerates as you age.
Can you get disability benefits for memory loss? Although “normal” memory loss may make it difficult to work, it most likely will not be a sufficient cause to get Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
There are a variety of health issues or injuries which can cause severe memory loss, however, which can be so debilitating that the Social Security Administration realizes that continued employment would be very difficult. We will discuss two common conditions below and provide a general list of the symptoms you will need to qualify for
either SSI or SSDI benefits.
Alzheimer’s Disease and Disability Benefits
Alzheimer’s is a degenerative neurological condition which is a major cause of severe memory loss. It is unclear what causes Alzheimer’s disease, although it is assumed that there are some genetic factors which may make certain individuals more prone to this condition. Patients with severe Alzheimer’s disease may eventually be unable to walk or feed themselves. They also may have severe short-term memory loss, incontinence or the inability to solve problems.
If you have been diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s disease, you may qualify for Compassionate Allowance (CAL) which allows the SSA to quickly identify conditions they can approve based on a minimal amount of objective medical information. The SSA recognizes if this condition has caused your severe memory loss that you will generally have the ability to perform work-related activities.
Head Injuries and Disability Benefits
It is estimated that up to 2 million people each year suffer some type of head injury. Of course many head injuries are minor and may only cause a bump on the head. Others can be extremely serious leading to very severe loss of functions or cognitive abilities.
The SSA does have a listing in their SSA Listing of Impairments for traumatic brain injuries and to be approved for this condition claimants may have the following symptoms: loss of consciousness, convulsive seizures, sensory or motor aphasia, significant and persistent disorganization of motor function in two extremities.
Claimants may also experience extreme memory impairment, disorientation, a change in personality, disturbances in thinking (e.g., hallucinations, delusions), emotional disturbances (e.g., explosive temper outbursts, sudden crying, etc.) or loss of intellect, but each of these must be to such a degree that they result in 2 of the following-
• Marked restriction of activities of daily living; or
• Marked difficulties in maintaining social functioning; or
• Marked difficulties in maintaining concentration, persistence, or pace; or
• Repeated episodes of decompensation, each of extended duration;
Hiring a Social Security Disability Lawyer
Some claimants are able to win disability benefits without the assistance of a SSDI lawyer; others fight for months only to be denied benefits. The first step is to review whether your condition is listed on the Compassionate Allowance list or if your condition “meets or exceeds” a listing on the SSA Listing of Impairments. If it does, and you have adequate medical records to support your claim, you should be approved the first time you apply.