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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Frank Rich Article on Alzheimer's disease

Frank Rich published a column about his grandmother's experience with Alzheimer's disease, and discussing how the disease is increasing reflected in contemporary culture as baby boomer's approach their 70's.  

Frank Rich discusses the tragedy of early-onset Alzheimer's, as people are struck down in the prime of their work years.  One thing that can make this situation even worse is the difficulty in prevailing on a claim for long-term disability benefits for the condition, or to win the administrative appeal of the benefit denial.  The reduction in job performance caused by the early stages of dementia can be subtle at first - bad enough to make job performance difficult, but not sufficiently severe to show up in neurological or psychological testing.  Also, the doctor's records may not reflect the seriousness of the condition.  A specialist in Alzheimer's will commonly see profoundly impaired patients.  A condition that may appear mild to the doctor, considering what many of his patients are like, but can still cause serious problems for someone with a job with high cognitive demands such as a teacher, doctor, lawyer or other professional.

So, what is a long-term disability benefit claimant to do?  The series of posts I am currently working on, From Diagnosis to the Disability Application, will give you guidance in addressing these issues.  But to summarize some of the more important issues I'll address in the series:
  • Consider getting a neuropsychological examination soon.  Your doctor may not think it is necessary if he is sure of the diagnosis, but it is really difficult to get an insurance company to accept any sort of cognitive impairment without one.
  • Make sure you tell your doctor details about how your condition is interfering with your ability to do your work, and make sure he notes it in the record.  
  • Consider keeping a daily log of how your condition makes it more difficult for you in your job, and your life in general.  

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