In the past, drug and alcohol dependency was considered a legitimate disability by the Social Security Administration. A person who proved disability due to an addiction to either drugs or alcohol could be awarded a benefit check. However, Congress removed addiction as an impairment for Social Security, likely due to complaints from citizens that benefits would only support continuing drug or alcohol reliance.

At the present time, Social Security may not award benefits to a person with an addiction if that addiction is deemed “material.” Material means that the addiction alone causes the person to be unable to do substantial work activity. However, if the person has another disabling mental or physical condition, even if caused by substance addiction, benefits can be awarded. For example, if an addict has physical changes due to liver disease, even if caused by regular use of addictive substances, benefits might be awarded. Another example is a person who has the mental changes of brain damage, even if from long-term use of substances, benefits might be awarded.

The bottom line is this: if an alcoholic or drug addict has a secondary disabling condition, even if caused by the addiction, benefits may be awarded. One thing the administrator considers is whether or not the condition would improve or resolve if the person stopped using addictive substances. A determination of whether or not the addition is “material” is also made.

My advice to a substance abuser is to see an attorney who is knowledgeable about the rules and procedures governing social security disability. At Hankey Marks & Crider, initial consultations are always free. Please call us today for a free case review.