Helping People With Disabilities Nationwide

Why do Alcoholics and Addicts Get Benefits? This Isn’t Fair!

by | Mar 6, 2024 | SSD - Social Security Disability |

Congress and Social Security disability rules prohibit people from being given disability benefits if their ONLY conditions are alcoholism or drug addiction. Other underlying conditions, either mental or physical, must exist and be disabling for benefits to be received. Often, treatment for addictions and/or significant periods of sobriety established in medical records is required before benefits will be given. This is especially true of cases that involve mainly mental health issues.

Claimants can help their case by seeking counseling, psychiatric treatment, addiction counseling or medications, or attending AA and/or NA meetings regularly. Regular urine or blood tests, ideally at random, that are “clean” can also help prove sobriety.

Once the addiction is shown to NOT have a “material” effect (meaning a serious or significant effect) on your functioning or the level of physical or mental distress you suffer from, the judge will separately evaluate the other mental or physical health conditions you are being treated for to determine if you meet disability criteria.

If you are suffering from a condition CREATED by your addiction (such as cirrhosis of the liver from alcoholism), but later establish sobriety, yet STILL are suffering from the condition created (ie: the cirrhosis), you can still be found disabled. The question the judge must ask is “if the addiction behavior were removed from the picture, would the resulting physical or mental health issue be fixed? And if not, do those conditions disable the individual?”.

Addiction can have a small impact on a case, or could completely destroy a case’s chances of success. Always reach out to a Social Security disability attorney to help you evaluate your case’s strength and weaknesses, especially if addiction issues are involved.


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