If you or a loved one has become disabled and attempts to file for Social Security Disability benefits, be aware of the laws regarding drug and alcohol use. Social Security claimants who use illegal drugs and/or abuse alcohol risk losing their entitlement to benefits. Social Security laws can prevent you from receiving SSDI benefits if your alcohol or drug use is a major factor causing your disability.
What if my disability was caused by drug or alcohol abuse?
It doesn't matter whether past alcohol or drug abuse caused your medical condition. What matters is whether or not your disability would improve or disappear if you stopped using drugs and/or alcohol. You may have heard stories of people receiving disability benefits for alcohol use in the past. However, federal laws have changed. Drug addiction and alcoholism are no longer considered disabilities that may be compensated with Social Security benefits.
How does the SSA determine whether or not I can receive benefits?
If your drug use or alcohol abuse is considered a "material contributing factor" to your disability, you will not win disability benefits. Materiality is determined by asking this question: "Is your disability made worse by alcohol or drug use?" If you answer "yes" to this question, your drug or alcohol use may be considered material to your alleged impairment, and you may be found ineligible to receive disability benefits. This evaluation is called a drug and alcohol abuse (DAA) determination.
Proving that drug and alcohol use is not a material cause of your disability can be very difficult. It means that Social Security must be able to look at your case and determine that even if you were completely clean and sober, you would still be disabled. As you may imagine, this can be very tough to do. It can be especially difficult in cases where there is a mental illness. Also, although it is possible to prove disability even with ongoing substance abuse, drug use and/or alcohol abuse tends to harm your credibility as a witness.
If you have a history of drug use or alcohol abuse and wish to file for social security disability benefits, it may be a good idea to have an experienced SSDI attorney handle the details of your case. If you have questions or concerns about filing for social security disability, please contact the knowledgeable SSD legal team at George Sink, P.A. Injury Lawyers for a free consultation .