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How alcoholism or substance addictions may affect SSDI benefits

| May 4, 2021 | SSDI

Individuals with an alcohol or substance addiction may apply for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits. An approval, however, may require documentation from a physician showing that a medical condition would exist regardless of the addiction.

An individual may qualify for SSDI when he or she cannot work or perform substantial activities because of a disabling medical condition. As reported by the AARP, the Social Security Administration may, however, deny an application if it appears that alcohol or drugs contributed to a disability.

Alcoholism or chemical dependency may prove material to a disability

For a claim to qualify, a doctor generally must expect a disability to last for at least one year or result in an applicant’s death. The SSA may verify medical records to determine if alcoholism or chemical dependency is material to the disability. Conditions caused by alcoholism, for example, include chronic liver disease, severe depression and seizures.

An examiner may ask whether alcohol or drugs have worsened an applicant’s impairment. This could result in an application’s denial, as noted by the U.S. Government Accountability Office. If a condition can improve by abstaining, an individual has the ability to work again.

Side effects from prescription drug use may qualify for SSDI benefits

Prescription drugs may cause disabling side effects that make it difficult to work while taking them. Fatigue and the inability to focus, for example, may prevent an individual from performing regular work tasks. The SSA may approve a claim by reviewing medical records and confirming that an individual is taking medications as prescribed.

If prescription medication prevents an individual from working, he or she may file an application to receive benefits. An individual may not, however, qualify for SSDI benefits if alcohol, substance or prescription abuse has made a material contribution to a disabling condition.