Frontotemporal Dementia


Frontotemporal Dementia (FTD) is a term used to describe any one of group of disorders that affect the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain. These areas are associated with personality, behavior, and language. FTD was first described over 100 years ago by Arnold Pick and is often referred to ‘Pick’s Disease.’

General information

FTD trails Alzheimer’s disease as the second most common degenerative disease causing dementia inyounger adults. The age of onset is typically in the 50s or 60s, but can be as young as 30.

In FTD, portions of the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain atrophy or shrink. Signs and symptoms vary, depending upon the portion of the brain affected. Some people with FTD undergo dramatic changes in their personality and become socially inappropriate, impulsive, or emotionally indifferent. Others may lose the ability to use language.

Common signs and symptoms include significant changes in social and personal behavior, apathy, blunting of emotions, and deficits in both expressive and receptive language. No treatment has been shown to slow the progression of FTD. Anti-depressants and tranquilizers have been shown to improve some symptoms.

The outcome for individuals with FTD is poor. The disease progresses steadily and often rapidly, ranging from less than two years in some individuals to more than 10 years in others. Eventually, some individuals with FTD will need 24-hour care and monitoring at home or in an institutionalized care setting.

SSA POMS DI 23022.170 – FTD, Pick’s Disease – Type A Adult.

Frontotemporal dementia is listed under the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) Compassionate Allowance Program, which was launched in 2008 to expedite certain disability claims. Applying for disability benefits under the Compassionate Allowance Program requires the same procedure every applicant must follow when applying for SSA disability benefits; however, you will be notified if your condition is being considered as a compassionate allowance.

If you have FTD and are applying for disability benefits under the Social Security Administration, you will need to verify your diagnosis with the results of testing. Diagnostic tests may include:

  • 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 imagining, such as MRI and CT, may demonstrate shrinkage of the frontal and temporal lobes and also help exclude other causes of dementia such as strokes and brain tumors. PET and SPEC tomography testing may be used to evaluate brain activity.

Your representative may be able to assist in expediting your claim if you have a diagnosis of frontotemporal dementia.