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Qualifying for Social Security Disability Benefits for Addiction

Manfred Ricciardelli
Dedicated To Helping You

You knew your drinking was getting out of hand, but you had a rough couple of weeks—your boss was getting on your case, you were having trouble with your friends, and you just kept putting off dealing with the problem. After all, you were still able to go to work (although you were counting the hours until you could go home again to be alone).

But now it’s finally caught up with you. You were late into work because you slept in, you forgot to cover one of your shifts, and now you’re being written up. You know you need to deal with the problem, but it’s going to be hard to work while undergoing alcohol treatment and you’re pretty sure your boss won’t give you paid leave.

Is There Social Security Help for Addiction (and Are You Qualified to Get it)?

The Social Security Administration (SSA) recognizes that it can be difficult to maintain a stable job while suffering from alcoholism or addiction. However, they will not grant disability benefits based on addiction alone. In order to determine if you could get payments for drug addiction and alcoholism (DAA), SSA will consider the following questions about your case:

  • Do any impairments qualify you as "disabled"? You must be considered disabled under Social Security's definition of disability to receive benefits, whether or not you suffer from drug or alcohol abuse.
  • Do you have a documented case of substance abuse? SSA will need medical evidence that supports your addiction diagnosis. They may examine which substances you have abused in the past, illegal drugs as well as alcohol and prescription medications apply. Caffeine and nicotine are generally not considered disabling.
  • Is your addiction your only impairment? Unfortunately, the presence of alcoholism or a drug addiction alone will not be enough to qualify you for benefits. You must have a disabling condition other than substance abuse that prevents you from working.
  • Is your disability worsened or caused by your addiction? In most cases, SSA will not approve benefits if your condition would improve if you underwent addiction treatment. For example, if you are a smoker who was diagnosed with emphysema at Morristown Medical Center, you will likely be denied benefits because quitting smoking could improve your condition. However, if you are a smoker who has developed lung cancer, your condition would not change by quitting alone, and you would still qualify for benefits.
  • Is your addiction related to a mental condition? In many cases, people attempt to use alcohol and other medications to cope with a mental imbalance, such as depression, bipolar disorder, or post-traumatic stress disorder. While this makes you ineligible for addiction benefits, you may qualify for disability under the listing for mental disorders.

Want to get your Social Security disability application approved on the first try? Click the contact link on this page to get your questions answered before sending in your claim.


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