Alzheimer’s Expected to Rise as Largest Generation Ages
One in eight baby boomers, an expected 10 million people, could be stricken with Alzheimer’s Disease, one of SSA’s 88 conditions for Compassionate Allowance.
The numbers, both in population and cost, are grim. “Alzheimer’s with its broad-ranging impact on individuals, families, Medicare and Medicaid, has the power to bring the country to its financial knees,” says Robert J. Egge, vice president of public policy for the Alzheimer’s Association.
California and Other States Prepare with a Plan
In anticipation of the Alzheimer’s Association’s dire prediction for the largest aging generation, more than 25 states are developing long-range state plans to prepare for a looming health crisis that they say could hit epidemic proportions.
One of those states, California, recently announced completion of its state plan. In California alone, the number of baby boomers living in the state to develop Alzheimer’s could double to 1.1 million by 2030. Costs will jump from $16 billion to $31.3 billion.
“The stakes are high,” said Mary Sundmo, president of the Alzheimer’s California Council. “It’s not just individuals diagnosed with Alzheimer’s who are of concern – in fact, virtually every Californian could be affected by the disease, including family caregivers, employers and taxpayers.”
Social Security Disability and Alzheimer’s
Alzheimer’s is ranked the sixth leading cause of death in Americans. There is no way to cure it, slow it down or prevent it from shattering the retirement years for those it strikes. There has also been a rising number of disability claims for younger baby boomers showing Alzheimer’s symptoms before the age of 65. Five to 10 percent have early-onset Alzheimer’s. These are people in their 40s or 50s.
In July 2009, the Social Security Administration (SSA) held a public hearing to consider early-onset Alzheimer’s for compassionate allowance. SSA Commissioner Michael J. Astrue at that time said, “With the aging of the baby-boomers, we are beginning to see more, younger working Americans diagnosed with this devastating disease…we hope to identify the most severe cases that can be included in our Compassionate Allowance process.”
Compassionate Allowance for Early-Onset Alzheimer’s
SSA’s proactive response led to including early-onset Alzheimer’s disease as one of 38 new Compassionate Allowance conditions that were added to SSA’s Compassionate Allowance list one year ago. At least this is a spark of good news for Americans whose live have been severely changed by the disease.
In California, where many Social Security disability claimants are caught in an average 400-day wait before getting a decision, those with early-onset Alzheimer’s will be spared that wait as will other disability claimants across the country from the largest aging generation who have what the Alzheimer’s Association is calling the “defining disease of baby boomers,”
The Alzheimer’s Association provides a wealth of care and support resources and provides funding for research to end Alzheimer’s. Find out more at www.alz.org.