Individuals who develop Alzheimer's while they're still working may be eligible for some coverage from disability insurance, either through an employer or an individual policy. "Their cognitive impairment can quickly reach a point where they can no longer maintain gainful employment," says Beth Kallmyer, a vice-president of the Alzheimer's Association. Most policies tend to end benefits at age 65, but rules vary by policy so it's worth checking.
The benefits triggers will depend on the policy's definition of disability. Some policies will make a partial payout if a newly diagnosed worker needs to cut back to part-time and will pay more if the worker needs to leave the job, says Barry Lundquist, president of the Council for Disability Awareness.
Individuals with early-onset Alzheimer's could qualify for Social Security disability benefits if they can't work. Early-onset Alzheimer's disease is on the government's "compassionate allowance" list of conditions subject to fast-track benefits approval. When you reach full Social Security retirement age, your disability benefits will convert to retirement benefits. (For more details, go to www.socialsecurity.gov/disability.)
Other sources of help
If you have a life insurance policy, you may qualify to withdraw most of the death benefit while you're still alive if your doctor certifies that you have less than two years to live. The accelerated death benefit could help pay for care.
Some veterans may be eligible for help from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. The VA may provide custodial care at home, in adult day-care centers and in VA nursing homes for veterans who pass strict eligibility tests. Disabled lower-income vets may be eligible for Aid and Attendance benefits of up to $20,448 for an individual or $24,440 for married veterans. To qualify, a veteran must have wartime service and be unable to perform personal functions, such as bathing and dressing.
To find more government programs to help pay for care, go to www.benefitscheckup.org, a free service of the National Council on Aging. Also visit the Alzheimer’s Association’s community resource finder.
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