How Drug Abuse and Alcoholism Can Affect a Disability Benefits Application

Drug addiction and alcoholism can be powerful, debilitating forces in our lives. For millions of Americans, the lurching throws of these twin conditions rule their daily interactions and control their abilities to function at the most basic levels. Some may not be able to hold steady employment, or even work at all. While the medical community may consider addiction a type of disease, the federal government has been reluctant to classify the problem as a qualifier for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits. In March 2013, the Social Security Administration (SSA) issued an interesting finding that may change the way Philadelphia disability benefits lawyers in Pennsylvania and elsewhere handle applications for their clients.

Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Rulings

Alcohol and drug addiction are not in and of themselves considering disabling conditions by the Social Security Administration. Anyone applying for disability benefits on the sole merits of a drug or alcohol problem will have their application denied. If the claimant has a disabling condition, other than drug abuse or alcohol addiction, SSA reviewers may still consider the application for approval on the medical evidence relating to the disabling condition. The presence of an addiction doesn’t immediately disqualify an applicant, if a valid disability is present.

Disabilities Related to Drug Abuse or Alcoholism

The SSA’s new Social Security Ruling clarifies addiction as it relates to disabilities and applications for benefits. Under the new terms, in effect since March 22, if recovery from drug addiction or alcoholism would remove a disability from an applicant, the SSA will deny their application for benefits. Why? Because the disabling condition is linked, or is a function of, their addiction. If removal of the addiction won’t cause the disability to go away, they may obtain approval for benefits under the new regulations.

Burden of Proof on Disability Claimants

The burden of proof to show a condition doesn’t stem from drugs or alcohol abuse rests directly on the claimant. In other words, the applicant has to prove that their condition is completely separate from any drug abuse or alcohol addiction. The SSA evaluates whether or not a physical/mental condition originates in addiction using a new six-part series of questions contained within the application for Social Security Disability benefits. These questions are confusing, and that’s by design. Attempting to complete the application, especially if the claimant has a history of substance abuse, isn’t advisable without the help of an experienced team of SSD attorneys.

Proper Documentation is Essential for Approval

Without proper medical documentation of an applicant’s injuries or disease, proving that their conditions are independent of any substance abuse is going to be difficult. By hiring a skilled SSD attorney, an applicant can leave the finer details of the application process up to a seasoned legal professional. This means there won’t be the missing information or incomplete medical files that could lead to a swift denial of benefits. For a person who’s suffering, in great pain, having a steady income of any kind is vital. The application is simply too important to leave it to chance.

Related Articles

How Bankruptcy Can Protect You

Filing for bankruptcy is often thought of as a sign of failure. At best, it is seen as a last resort when faced with too many bills, collection letters, or […]

Read More »

Means Testing in Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

Bankruptcy has many layers. Before filing, a potential debtor will have to gather their bills, bank statements, tax returns, and proof of all household income for the previous six months. […]

Read More »

How Many Types of Social Security Benefits Are Available?

While it is necessary to be disabled to receive disability benefits, the non-medical requirements are different for each category. You may be entitled to one or more types of benefits. […]

Read More »

Have an Attorney Review Your Case for Free

Get a Free Case Evaluation

Contact Our Attorneys To Learn How We Can Help Your Case


12 Convenient Locations Across Pennsylvania and New Jersey

Philadelphia, PA

7909 Bustletown Ave, 1st Floor Philadelphia, PA 19152 (215) 607-7478 Get Directions

Quakertown, PA

328 Broad St. Quakertown, PA 18951 (215) 515-6876 Get Directions

Allentown, PA

137 N 5th St. Suite A Allentown, PA 18102 (215) 240-4082 Get Directions

Jenkintown, PA

135 Old York Road Jenkintown, PA 19046 (215) 544-3347 Get Directions

Easton, PA

101 Larry Holmes Dr. #212 Easton, PA 18042 (215) 515-7077 Get Directions

Bala Cynwyd, PA

2 Bala Plaza, Suite 300 Bala Cynwyd, PA 19004 (610) 557-3209 Get Directions

Bensalem, PA

3554 Hulmeville Rd, #102 Bensalem, PA 19020 (215) 515-6389 Get Directions

Plymouth Meeting, PA

600 W. Germantown Pike #400 Plymouth Meeting, PA 19462 (215) 515-6876 Get Directions

Harrisburg, PA

2225 Sycamore St Harrisburg, PA 17111 (717) 864-8887 Get Directions

Cinnaminson, NJ

909 Route 130 South #202 Cinnaminson, NJ 08077 (609) 796-4344 Get Directions

Hamilton Twp., NJ

100 Horizon Center Blvd., 1st and 2nd Floors Hamilton Township, NJ 08691 (609) 236-8649 Get Directions

Marlton, NJ

10000 Lincoln Drive E One Greentree Centre, Suite 201 Marlton, NJ 08053 (856) 213-2805 Get Directions

Piscataway, NJ

200 Centennial Ave. Suite 200 Piscataway, NJ 08854 (908) 367-7256 Get Directions