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How a saliva test can help Alzheimer's patients get benefits

As many of our Fresno and Oakland readers know, getting access to disability benefits starts with a diagnosis of a debilitating illness, disease or health condition. Without this diagnosis, applications for benefits are left in limbo or even denied because the Social Security Administration does not have a record of your condition or the effect it is having on your life.

It's for this reason that getting an early diagnosis is so important. The sooner a condition is diagnosed, the sooner a person can start generating a medical history that not only proves the existence of a debilitating condition but how long it has been affecting that person's life. Unfortunately, early diagnosis for some conditions can be challenging.

Take for example the diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease. As the Alzheimer's Association explains, "there is no single test that can show whether a person has [the disease]." A proper diagnosis requires considerable testing, sometimes over the course of months, to determine the presence of the disease. This could mean living months with a disability that leaves an individual unable to work but unable to collect SSDI as well.

A saliva test recently developed by researchers from the University of Alberta in Canada does hold promise, however, for early detection of Alzheimer's. By looking at saliva samples from both Alzheimer's and non-Alzheimer's patients, researchers were able to detect biomarkers that indicated the presence of the disease.

Though the saliva test will require further testing and peer review, it could one day help doctors detect Alzheimer's earlier. This may come as good news to those waiting for a diagnosis in order to start applying for SSDI benefits.

Sources: CNN, "New saliva test may catch Alzheimer's disease early," Liza Lucas, July 20, 2015

The Alzheimer's Association, "Diagnosis of Alzheimer's Disease and Dementia," Accessed Sept. 23, 2015

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