Can You Get Social Security Disability Benefits if You Have Drug Addiction or Alcoholism?

Individuals who abuse alcohol may be considered disabled under the ADA if the person is an alcoholic or a recovering alcoholic.Courts have usually held that alcoholism is a covered disability. For example, in Williams v. Widnall,the court flatly stated, without discussion, that alcoholism is a covered disability. Notwithstanding the EEOC’s clear language, employees still attempt to use the argument in courts. When they do, the employer will argue and usually with success that the employee is a current user despite his or her recent admission into a drug rehabilitation program. An individual who is currently engaging in the illegal use of drugs is not an individual with a disability when the employer acts on the basis of such use. It has been reported that 10 percent to 25 percent of the American population is sometimes on the job under the influence of alcohol or some illicit drug.

is addiction a disability

Winning a claim for disability benefits based on a mental impairment when you also have a history of substance abuse can be challenging. Make sure that you’re upfront with your doctor about your struggles with addiction. The SSA is aware that recovery isn’t easy, and won’t penalize you for any relapses so long as you’re honest with your medical providers.

Healthcare Exception

The full continuum of care offered at our facilities is able to address addiction as well as any co-occurring mental health disorders that may be present.Contact ustoday to learn about treatment programs that can work well for your needs. The SSA recognizes a disabilitycategorycalled substance addiction disorder, which acknowledges the fact that chronic alcohol abuse can result in severe disability. With this category, a person can receive benefits for an underlying disability caused by alcohol addiction, but not for the addiction itself. You still cannot get disability benefits on the basis of an addiction to painkillers or other prescription narcotics.

In addition, if the SSA finds that your addiction is material to your disability claim, your addiction will cause your case to be denied. Only if your addiction is deemed immaterial to the condition for which you are seeking disability benefits, will the addiction not prevent you from obtaining disability benefits. On the other hand, the ADA does recognize alcoholism and drug addiction as disabilities.

is addiction a disability

Therefore, there is a good chance that there isn’t an ongoing problem. The CPS worker violated the ADA when he refused to work with Lilian because of her history of drug use. The CPS worker is also incorrectly regarding Methadone as an illegal drug. Methadone is a legally prescribed medication, eco sober house boston just like insulin is prescribed for diabetes. The Americans with Disabilities Act ensures that people with disabilities have the same rights and opportunities as everyone else. This includes people with addiction to alcohol and people in recovery from opioids and other drugs.

Director of Operations

With over 32 years in the arena of addiction and sobriety, he uses his vast experience to provide a unique approach to mentorship and guiding our clients toward a supportive lifestyle of recovery. Mr. Douglas’ experience, strength, and hope inspires those in our program, and prepares them for the real-world journey of recovery. With a robust foundation in 12-step philosophy, Federico can not only educate the clients on the model, but also integrate the tried-and-true principles in a more personal, clinical setting. Knowing the criteria of what qualifies as a disability, you’ve likely noticed the parallels and how drug addiction can result in the same loss of independence and self-sufficiency as a loss of a limb or a hereditary genetic condition. If you win your claim for disability but the SSA believes you’re still struggling with substance abuse, the agency might require that you have a representative payee. Back due benefits and ongoing monthly payments will be sent to your representative, who is expected to manage the money on your behalf.

  • He works directly with the clients on management of medical issues both related to and separate from their addiction, ensuring comprehensive health care plans that ensure our clients’ chances at recovery.
  • Contact a treatment provider today to inquire about various treatment plans.
  • Drug use won’t be considered material if you’re applying for disability because of an unrelated condition, such as thyroid cancer or degenerative disc disease.
  • Accommodations are created to help alleviate these disadvantages, such as including braille on signs.

Her experience in a variety of settings, from leadership in a hospital setting to private practice, affords Cheryl a well-rounded skillset ready to render top-notch care and serve the needs of our diverse community. As a licensed clinician, Cheryl stands ready to diagnose and treat a wide spectrum of mental, behavioral, and personality disorders that sometimes present alongside a substance use disorder. Whether she’s leading group therapy or providing an individual therapy session, Cheryl’s expansive knowledge and genuine compassion paired with her deep drive to help people are always on display at The Freedom Center. Bunmi is a recent graduate of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, where she earned her bachelor’s degree in Psychology with a concentration in Human Services. She joined The Freedom Center team to provide counseling for substance use disorders and related mental health issues on an individual basis, facilitate group sessions, provide assessments, and provide support to the clinical staff.

Other housing, like half-way houses, serve people who are on probation, some of whom have addictions. Often staff of housing programs refuse to admit people who take medication prescribed to treat their substance use disorders, even if they are required to live there while on probation. If a person is prescribed medication to treat a substance use disorder, the ADA and/or the Fair Housing Act may require housing programs to admit the individual. The ADA also requires that state-funded housing provide “reasonable modifications” to individuals with disabilities, including those in recovery. The SSA does not have to establish a drug or alcohol addiction by any specific criteria, such as those in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual. Whether a person’s drug use is “addictive,” a free choice, legal, illegal, or involves a prescribed drug, is not relevant to Social Security’s determination of whether drug addiction or alcoholism is present.

The application must, however, meet the requirements for emphysema under the SSA guidelines for disability. In contrast, if you are addicted to cigarettes, the SSA will consider smoking material to the fact that you have emphysema, and it will not grant your application, regardless of whether you meet all the criteria for an emphysema disability. It is not possible at this point in time to receive Social Security Disability benefits based solely on Drug Addiction. The Social Security Administration will not grant disability benefits to people with disabilities that have been caused or worsened by addiction.

The ADA applies to all state and local government departments and agencies of those governments (“public entities”). Examples include the criminal justice system and State and local government-operated recovery homes. The ADA requires that all programs, services, and activities are accessible to and usable by people with disabilities. The ADA also requires that when a person with a disability asks for a modification of policies or the way the program operates, that modification must be considered.

Social Security disability cases involving drug addicts or alcoholics can be very complicated from a legal standpoint. If you or someone you know is in this situation, you should encourage them to seek legal assistance with their social security claim. Again, Social Security should never hold alcohol, narcotic, or other drug use as a reason to deny benefits to a claimant, regardless of any opinions by treating doctors. Thus it would be an error for a Social Security consulting physician or claims examiner to say that an applicant should be denied automatically, simply because they are also using narcotics. The Social Security medical consultant, administrative law judge, or other adjudicator should understand the nature of the drugs abused when deciding the reversibility of the effects or drugs or alcohol. Even a treating doctor’s opinion that a drug’s effect is reversible is not acceptable unless it is both true and applicable to a given case.

In the United States, 54 million people experience some form of disability. Of that number, roughly 9% (a total of 4.7 million adults) have both an SUD and a co-existing disability. Deirdre graduated in 2012 from Pace University and completed her bachelor’s at Columbia University in New York and has her Master of Science in Family Nurse Practitioner. Deirdre has extensive experience in mental health and treating substance use disorder related issues. In addition, Deirdre has experience in caring for young adults, women’s health issues and adolescents with HIV/AIDS.

However, the half-way house could allow Jason to leave each day only to receive Suboxone at a treatment center. It’s important to note that people in recovery may have other disabilities requiring accommodations, such as providing a sign language interpreter for a Deaf participant or providing materials in an alternative format for someone with a vision disability. The Social Security Administration recognizes that drug addiction or substance abuse can cause irreversible physical or mental conditions. While the agency no longer awards benefits solely on the basis of drug addiction, you might still qualify for disability benefits if you have separate impairments that prevent you from working—even if the impairment was caused by substance abuse. However, a drug addict or alcoholic is not prohibited from obtaining social security disability benefits if they have another disability that renders them disabled under Social Security law.

Can You Get Social Security Disability Benefits if You Have Drug Addiction or Alcoholism?

You still may be able to draw benefits for a disability in which substance abuse played a part if Social Security finds that your condition is irreversible and abstinence now would not affect it. However, the Social Security Administration can reject a benefit claim if it determines that drug or alcohol use causes or contributes to the physical or functional limitations that render you disabled — unable to work for a year or more. If Social Security finds that drug addiction or alcoholism exists, the agency then forms an opinion about whether any damage caused by the drug or drug use is reversible and whether the reversible damage would make any difference between an allowance and denial.

These factors, combined with the fact that Opioid addiction is by far the most likely form of addiction to end in overdose and death, make disability and addiction to Opioids a growing cause for concern. As the Medical Director, Mark works with the staff to coordinate the appropriate level of care for each individual client. He works directly with the clients on management of medical issues both related to and separate from their addiction, ensuring comprehensive health care plans that ensure our clients’ chances at recovery. What he has found to be most rewarding about working in the addictions treatment field is being able to help suffering addicts and alcoholics to realize their fullest potential. Being born and raised in Gaithersburg, Maryland, it was always a dream for James to start a program where he began his own recovery journey. Having faced addiction in his own life, and having worked through recovery, James truly understands what it takes to get sober and stay sober.

How Social Security Treats Drugs and Alcohol, Past and Present

The defense of direct threat is one that is raised frequently by employers in dealing with issues of substance abuse. The ADA defines direct threat as a significant risk to the health or safety of others that cannot be eliminated by reasonable accommodation. The ADA permits employers to require, as a job qualification, that an individual not pose a direct threat to the health or safety of other individuals in the workplace. Moreover, an employer may institute such a requirement even if an employer s reliance on such a qualification might screen out or tend to screen out or otherwise deny a job or benefit to an individual with a disability. This would generally involve a modified work schedule so the employee could attend Narcotics Anonymous meetings or a leave of absence so the employee could seek treatment.

While it does provide protection for current alcoholism, it does not protect people who are currently abusing drugs. The Americans With Disabilities Act and other disability benefit laws provide insight into whether alcoholism and drug addiction are disabilities. That means Social Security can consider the effects of prescription drugs on your ability to work in a way it cannot with other substances. Social Security will ignore any such limitations directly related to drinking or illicit drug use.

Through her own hard-won experience and deep desire to help others, Alexandra became a certified Peer Support Recovery Coach, Life Coach and actively practices principals learned through the recovery process in her daily life. Alexandra is a mother, a daughter, a sister, a friend and has learned the value of recovery and succeeding in whatever she sets her mind to. Her innovative approach as Director of Operations gives her clients a safe and compassionate place at The Freedom Center to begin their recovery journey. Whether someone is currently using drugs illegally is decided on a case-by-case basis. Antonio can tell the interviewer that he had an illness, is fully recovered and excited about the opportunity to work for the company. This allows him to be honest without disclosing a specific disability.

Qualifying for Benefits with a Substance Addiction Disorder

These medical denials often amount to the claimant’s problem not being deemed severe enough to be truly disabling. Your disability must have either already lasted or be expected to last for at least one year, or be expected to result in death. Functional impairment is, as the name implies, a loss of a body part’s ability to function as normal that interferes with a person’s ability to fulfill social or occupational obligations. Impairment is defined as the absence or deficiency in a person’s physical or cognitive abilities. Structural impairments are those involving internal or external parts of the body. It can mean bodily damage or complete loss of a body part, such as amputation.

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