Social Security Disability Benefits and Drug Use

 Prior to 1996, applicants were eligible for disability benefits based on alcoholism and drug addiction alone.

Since 1996, regulation changes mandate that applications for benefits be denied if drug addiction and/or alcoholism is a contributing factor to the applicant’s disability.

How does SSA determine whether drug use is a contributing factor to the applicant’s disability?

  • The key factor in deciding if drug use is a contributing factor is whether SSA would still find the applicant disabled if he or she stopped using drugs or alcohol.
  • SSA first evaluates which current physical and mental impairments would be eligible for disability benefits.
  • SSA next evaluates which of those impairments would remain if the applicant stopped using drugs or alcohol.
  • SSA then determines whether any or all of the remaining impairments would be disabling.
  • If SSA finds that the remaining limitations are disabling, the applicant will be deemed disabled independent of his or her drug use or alcoholism.
  • However, the claim will be denied if SSA finds that the remaining limitations are not disabling.

Bottom line = if the applicant has a disabling condition in addition to an alcohol or drug addiction, benefits may still be paid even if the applicant is still using. For instance, a blind person would still be eligible for benefits even if they have a drug addiction because their vision deficit prevents them from work, regardless of whether they are using drugs or alcohol.

For more information on disability benefits and drug use, check out:  http://www.disabilitysecrets.com/social-security-disability-drug-addiction.html