Does Addiction & Alcoholism Affect Social Security Disability?

social security disability and alcoholism

Drug addiction and alcoholism (DAA) are terrible diseases that can wreak havoc on the body and take a serious toll on a person’s mental and physical well-being.

Unfortunately, anyone who had been diagnosed with these conditions and is also disabled may have a much harder time getting approval from the Social Security Administration (SSA) for the Social Security disability (SSD) benefits.

A psychologist for the Social Security Administration could determine that your disability symptoms are the result of substance abuse and not a medical condition, so it’s important to prove this is not true. It’s helpful to have evidence of sobriety in your medical records, as this can show that you are still suffering disabling symptoms even though you are no longer dependent on drugs and/or alcohol.

Keep in mind that having a history of drug addiction or alcoholism won’t stop you from ever being approved for Social Security disability benefits – it’s not an automatic denial. However, you cannot receive Social Security disability benefits if your disability is due to your substance abuse. if you have additional questions about this, a Social Security attorney or advocate may be the best person to consult.

Will DAA affect get your claim approved or denied? 

In 2013, the Social Security Administration issued SSR 13-2p, which ruled to clarify how applications involving DAA are decided and to determine if it’s “a contributing factor material to the determination of disability.” The process includes six questions:

  1. Is DAA involved? If there’s evidence that you previously or currently suffer from DAA, the second question will be asked.
  2. Do your impairments including DAA qualify you as disabled? If you don’t meet the Social Security Administration’s requirements for and definition of disability, your Social Security disability claim will be denied. However, if the organization does find you disabled, your claim can proceed.
  3. Is the only impairment DAA? If you are only considered disabled because of your substance abuse, your claim will be denied because it can’t be the sole basis for your application.
  4. Are your impairments disabling themselves or because of DAA? If you’re only unable to work because of drug addiction or alcoholism, it doesn’t meet the requirements for Social Security disability benefits.
  5. Are your medical impairments caused or affected by DAA? If the answer is no, then DAA is not considered material.
  6. If you didn’t have DAA, would your impairments leave you disabled? If the answer is no, then you won’t meet the Social Security Administrations’s requirements.

Hire a lawyer to help with your Social Security Disability claim

Because of the complexity of these cases, it’s best to hire a lawyer to assist you with your SSD benefits claim. An advocate working in this field understands the rules of the Social Security Administration and what the organization requires in order for someone to have the benefits approved.

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