If you are one of the millions of people in the United States who are unable to work, you no doubt understand the economic difficulties that typically accompany such circumstances. Not only in Minnesota, but from coast to coast, as well, there are people who would love nothing more than to return to work but are unable to do so — and these people need financial assistance to make ends meet at home. If you file a Social Security Disability (SSD) claim, you may be able to collect benefits.
The SSD claims process is complex, and numerous issues can cause challenges or obstacles that may delay or impede your ability to collect benefits. One such issue is substance abuse. Several factors will determine whether an alcohol or drug addiction problem will cause case reviewers to deny an SSD claim.
When did the alcohol or drug problem arise?
Many medical conditions that create a disability, so that those afflicted are unable to work, are conditions that cause chronic pain. Every day, doctors throughout the United States write prescriptions for powerful narcotics and other drugs that help alleviate pain. Such drugs are often highly addictive.
If you are struggling to overcome drug addiction and have applied for SSD benefits, one of the facts that your case reviewers will examine is whether your addiction was present before your disability occurred or became a problem after you started taking pain medication.
Will a judge determine that your addiction is your disability?
SSD regulations prohibit case reviewers from denying claims based solely on the fact that a person has an alcohol or drug addiction. However, if you appeal a denial, the judge overseeing your case will determine whether you would still have a disability if you were not addicted to drugs or alcohol. In other words, would you still have a medical condition that has been approved for benefits, and would you still be unable to work for a year or more?
In some cases, the average physician might say he or she expects that a particular person’s health would improve within a year, to a point where he or she could return to work, and that it is the person’s drug or alcohol condition that is creating the disability.
No substance abuse issues versus addiction
The bottom line is that you might have a better chance of having your claim approved to collect SSD benefits if you do not have any current substance abuse problems. This is not to say that having such problems is 100% guaranteed to result in a claim denial. Every case is unique, and decisions are based on the merits of each application.
It is helpful to speak with someone experienced in navigating the SSD claims and appellate processes before you request benefits. This type of guidance and support may be key to resolving any complications that arise and may help ensure that you receive the maximum benefits to which you may be entitled.