Also called frontotemporal dementia (FTD), Pick’s disease is a tough diagnosis. It is a rare form of dementia, much like Alzheimer’s disease. The difference is it tends to affect only certain areas of the brain. In fact, the word ‘frontotemporal’ refers to the two sets of lobes in the brain — frontal and temporal – which this type of dementia damages.
The first symptoms most people notice are:
- Changes to personality and behavior, or
- Difficulties with language.
In the early stages of FTD, many people can still remember recent events and familiar people. Unfortunately, however, Pick’s disease is progressive. This means your symptoms will get worse over time. People with it may eventually lose all speech. Because these troubling symptoms make it impossible to work, it’s smart to apply for Social Security disability benefits right away.
IMPORTANT: After you file for disability, the SSA should approve you fast due to the Compassionate Allowances program for rare conditions.
Technical Qualifications You Must Meet for Disability Benefits with Pick’s Disease
The federal government considers you disabled if:
- You cannot do work that you did before, and
- The Social Security Administration decides that you can’t adjust to other work because of your medical condition, and
- Your condition (such as Pick’s disease or FTD) should last at least 12 months or result in your death.
You must also have worked at least half of the past decade while paying Social Security payroll taxes.
How to Quickly Qualify for Automatic Disability Benefits
Pick’s disease automatically qualifies as a disability for SSDI benefits for the first 24 months after diagnosis. If you can meet all disability technical qualifications, then the SSA expedites your claim under its Compassionate Allowances program. This means that your claim will get processed much faster than other applicants.
The Compassionate Allowance (CAL) law speeds up SSDI and SSI claim processing for individuals with certain medical conditions. Most CAL conditions get approved for benefits within 30 days of application. Adult-onset Huntington’s disease, FTD, early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, and a few other conditions all fall under the CAL program’s designation.
Pick’s Disease Medical Evidence You’ll Need for Your Disability Claim
To qualify for benefits, the SSA needs to see your diagnostic testing results, physical findings, and ICD-9-CM/ICD-10-CM coding. Convincing medical evidence for Pick’s disease disability claims can include the following:
- Physical exam
- Clinical assessment and blood tests
- Neurological exam that checks awareness and responsiveness, vital signs, reflexes, sensory responses, and coordination
- Neuropsychological testing, which assesses memory, ability to reason and judge, problem-solving skills, and language skills
- Brain imaging, such as MRI and CT scans, may reveal shrinkage of the frontal and temporal lobes and help exclude other dementia causes, such as strokes and brain tumors
- PET and SPEC tomography testing used to evaluate brain activity
- Inappropriate actions, such as compulsive behavior
- Apathy, or lack of interest or enthusiasm in activities
- Lack of inhibition or restraint
- Neglect of personal hygiene and care
- Difficulty speaking or understanding speech
- Language recall problems
- Loss of reading and writing skills
- Difficulty with social interactions
Symptoms and Treatments
According to SSA.gov, there is a genetic component to Pick’s disease. This means that it runs in families. The disease usually begins between ages 40 and 60, with 54 being the average age doctors diagnose it in patients.
The presence of abnormalities in the nerve cells of the brain, called Pick bodies, sets frontal lobe dementia apart from its other forms. No treatment has been shown to slow the progression of FTD. Joining a support group may ease some of your stress.
Symptoms become similar to the later stages of other types of dementia over time, such as Alzheimer’s disease. People with Pick’s disease may:
- Forget things more often
- Experience delusions or hallucinations
- Feel restless or agitated or behave aggressively
- No longer recognize friends and family
At later FTD stages, you likely will need full-time care to meet your daily needs.
Why Do I Need a Representative Payee?
Because this is a progressive disease, many people on SSD benefits must choose a representative payee. This is a person who can handle your payments and bills for you. Eventually, some individuals with Pick’s disease need 24-hour care and monitoring at home or in a nursing home. As a result, picking out a representative payee whom you trust is important.
How to Get Free Expert Help Applying for Pick’s Disease Disability Benefits
Can’t afford to see a doctor? An attorney can cover the cost of any tests you need or pay for copies of your complete medical records. We can connect you with a nearby SSD claims expert by phone today for free application help.
If the SSA doesn’t award you benefits, then you owe $0 for expert assistance. And if you’re successful, then you only pay one small fee after your benefits begin.
Want to talk to a local expert for free, in private? Click the button below now to start your free online benefits quiz and see if you may qualify:
Laura Schaefer is the author of The Teashop Girls, The Secret Ingredient, and Littler Women: A Modern Retelling. She is also an active co-author or ghostwriter of several nonfiction books on personal and business development. Laura currently lives in Windermere, Florida with her husband and daughter and works with clients all over the world. Visit her online at lauraschaeferwriter.com and linkedin.com.