July 10, 2014
How Do Drugs And Alcohol Use Affect My Disability Claim?
Your social security disability claim may be denied due to alcohol or drug use. The way this information usually gets to the Social Security Administration (SSA) is through the medical records. Most doctors offices ask questions concerning drugs and alcohol when patients go in for a check up. Some hospitals will conduct drug tests while patients are in for a procedure. Below is a paraphrased version of what the SSA’s Federal Regulation 416.935 says concerning drugs and alcohol:
- If the SSA finds that you are disabled, they must determine if your drug or alcohol addiction is a contributing factor to your disability. This does not apply to claimants when applying because of blindness.
- If you stopped using drugs or alcohol, would the SSA still find you disabled?
- Would your current physical or mental limitations remain if you stopped using drugs or alcohol?
- If the SSA determines that your remaining limitations (after removing the drug or alcohol use) would not be disabling, you may not receive benefits.
- If the SSA determines that your remaining limitations (after removing the drug or alcohol use) are still disabling, you may be found favorable for benefits.
How the SSA looks at drug and alcohol use varies from case to case. In cases where the claimant is claiming mental health issues, the SSA will look and determine, in their opinion, if the claimant stopped using drugs or alcohol, would the condition still exist? This can be a gray area with mental health cases because far too often I see drugs or alcohol become a coping mechanism for mental issues.
If you have drug or alcohol issues, your case may be harder to win, but this does not mean that it is impossible. We must prove to the SSA that the drug or alcohol issues are independent from your disability. If you have past drug or alcohol dependence issues, but are getting treatment for them now, you may have a greater chance of being granted benefits as well.
Filed under:Appeals Process, Evaluation Process, Medical Treatment || Tagged under: abuse, alcohol, attorney, disability, drugs, Indiana, social security, ssa