(02/19/2010)
Early-onset Alzheimer's disease and Mixed Dementia are among 38 conditions that have just been added to Social Security's coverage list.

People with these diseases are now on the fast-track for benefits to be approved.

There are now 88 rare diseases and brain disorders on the Compassionate Allowances List.

What it means: Applicants will have a simplified process and a wait time for benefit approval of just days instead of months or even years.

There are about 50,000 West Virginia residents with Alzheimer's.

"It's a devastating diagnosis at any age, but particularly for a 40- or 50-year-old," said Jane Marks, executive director of the Alzheimer's Association West Virginia Chapter.

"You have to leave your job, you're probably not eligible for any pension or retirement yet, and so you apply for Social Security Disability, and you have to wait, and wait, and wait, and many times they're denied," said Marks.

"You may be at the age where you're still raising and supporting children and you have no monetary support at all while you're facing this devastating disease," she said.

"It's certainly one less burden they will have to face," with assistance from Social Security.


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