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Disability Benefits for Substance Abuse

substance abuseAnyone who has struggled with a drug or alcohol problem is aware that this kind of problem can make it impossible to maintain a job. Even though an addiction that’s just starting to get into the more serious stages can interfere with someone’s ability to work, the Social Security Administration does not grant disability benefits based on addiction alone.

Since addiction is a disease, many people are frustrated to learn that the answer to the question, “can you get disability for drug addiction?” is no. Although this realization can be disheartening, there are other options that are available.

If you have any mental or physical conditions that were caused by issues with substance abuse, it is possible to secure disability benefits. Additionally, you may be able to receive Social Security disability benefits based on a mental or physical condition that coexists with your substance abuse (such as depression or bipolar disorder). In fact, it’s worth noting that regardless of the alleged cause of an impairment, the SSA begins their evaluation of all claims the same way.

 

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What Are the Eligibility Requirements for Disability Benefits?

In order to be eligible for disability benefits, you need to make less than $1,070 a month (for 2014) and have a condition that will last for at least twelve months. Your condition must also severely impact your ability to work. If you don’t meet one of those requirements but still submit an application, it will be denied.

If you do meet those basic requirements, the next thing the SSA will look at is if your condition meets one of their disability listings. This is why it’s important to take the right approach to a substance abuse claim. For example, while you cannot get social security disability for alcoholism, it is possible to receive benefits for conditions like liver damage, gastritis or pancreatitis that alcohol abuse may have caused. Additionally, SSDI based on depression from past alcohol abuse or other organic mental disorders is also possible.

Medical Evidence and Ongoing Use For Substance Abuse Disability

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The type of medical evidence that’s needed will depend on whether your claim is for a mental or physical disorder. Psychiatric reports, a list of prescribed medications and a history of hospitalizations are all types of evidence that may be used for your claim.

Since an addiction may still be active or undergo a relapse, the SSA generally does not use that fact as a reason to deny claims. However, if the SSA determines that quitting drugs or alcohol would medically improve your disabling condition, your claim will be denied. Thus, the medical evidence must establish that even absent drug and/or alcohol use, your mental or physical health condition would still be severe and disabling according to Social Security’s rules.

Denied Disability for Substance Abuse?

Unfortunately, it is quite common for patients to be denied disability for substance abuse, as the Social Security Administration does not offer disability for substance abuse alone. Even if you cannot work or find your everyday life significantly impacted by substance abuse, you may be denied benefits. If this happens, you still do have options.

Since substance abuse can lead to significant disabilities or medical conditions, you may try to seek benefits for the disability or condition you have as a result of substance abuse or in conjunction with the addiction. You can also try securing additional medical evidence of your disability before going forward with an appeal if you feel you qualify based on your current stated condition.

A third option is to work with a Social Security attorney such as Lisa M. Ritacco. Working with an attorney is advantageous, because a legal professional understands the requirements for Social Security benefits and can work to find those benefits on your behalf. He or she can recommend medical tests and treatments that can help you prove to the Social Security Administration that you qualify for disability. If you have a substance-abuse problem that prevents you from working, contact Lisa M. Ritacco for a consultation to discuss your options.

Proving Eligibility for Substance Abuse Disability Benefits

Proving substance abuse disability eligibility can be complex, since there is no simple medical test that can prove you are eligible. In addition, Social Security does not offer benefits for substance abuse alone. For this reason, you will want to secure as much evidence as possible for any medical condition you have as a result of your substance abuse or for any condition that occurs in conjunction with your substance use. For example, if you have severe depression and this has contributed to the addiction, securing evidence of that condition may ensure you qualify for benefits due to your depression.

Always speak with doctors and get full medical evaluations as well as treatment for any conditions you have. This can help establish medical evidence of your situation and can also help you prove you are eligible for benefits. Refusing to go to the doctor can harm your case. Unfortunately, patients with substance abuse problems sometimes avoid visiting medical professionals and may spend significant amounts of time hiding their symptoms and their condition from others. This means there may be very little evidence, which will make it harder to prove eligibility for benefits.

If you have spent time in treatment for either substance abuse or a related condition, it is important to get paperwork and documentation of the treatment. If you have been to rehabilitation or have had periods when you were not using, it is important to keep records of this. The Social Security Administration will examine whether you would have a specific disability, even if you weren’t using alcohol or drugs. Showing you were still disabled during periods of sobriety can help prove your eligibility.

Because claims involving drugs, alcohol abuse and social security disability can be quite complicated, it’s useful to have the help of a disability attorney. Lisa M. Ritacco has over eight years of experience and doesn’t charge an upfront fee for her services. For a free consultation with her firm, contact Lisa online or call 877-459-4799 today.

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