What Drug or Alcohol Abuse May Mean for Your Social Security Disability Claim

Millions of Americans struggle with drug addiction, alcoholism, or drug dependence—and it follows that some of those people also suffer from disabilities. Some people with disabilities may have health issues that are completely unrelated to their drug or alcohol abuse issues, while others may have conditions or diseases that are caused or affected by substance abuse problems.
Thus, it is important to know whether it is possible to receive Social Security disability benefits if you currently struggle with drug or alcohol addiction or if you’ve had such a struggle in the past.

Drug Addiction Is Not an SSA Disability

It is not possible to receive Social Security disability benefits solely because you suffer from drug or alcohol addiction issues that render you incapable of working. Similarly, it is not possible to receive Social Security disability benefits if your health issues, conditions, or diseases are the direct cause of your drug or alcohol abuse.

However, if you suffer from a disability that is not related to your past or current substance abuse issues—and if your substance abuse does not exacerbate your condition—you may still be eligible for benefits. When evaluating your case, the Social Security Administration (SSA) will likely need to determine if:

  • You have a history of substance abuse
  • You are currently struggling with substance abuse
  • Substance abuse was a contributing factor to your current disability
  • Current substance use is affecting your disability
  • Your disability would improve if you halted substance use

When applying for Social Security disability benefits, it is important to know whether your medical records include information regarding substance abuse or suspected substance abuse—especially if you are applying for benefits for a mental illness, such as anxiety or depression, or if you are applying for benefits for a condition that has been linked with drinking or drug use.
Remember, it is possible to receive benefits for a disability even if you have a history of addiction, but it may be more difficult for you. Please speak to a Social Security disability attorney today about your case to find out how to move forward with your application or appeal.

Carl M. Weisbrod
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Managing Partner of Morgan & Weisbrod, Board Certified in Social Security Disability Law