Substance abuse may qualify for disability benefits?

  Terry Katz & Associates  |  July 8, 2016  | Last modified on October 17th, 2018 | 

Millions of Americans suffer from substance abuse problems. While many are able to live a productive life, for some, substance abuse can lead to the destruction of one’s family, an inability to keep a job and in the case of overdoses, death.

Among the Social Security Administration’s list of qualifying conditions to collect disability insurance is substance addiction disorders, though it is often very difficult to prove that a substance abuse problem itself is enough to qualify. Simply stating that one lost a job or cannot get a job due to insobriety is not enough. In fact, that situation alone may disqualify a person from unemployment benefits.

But, if it can be proven that a previous history of substance or alcohol abuse has led to permanent disabilities that prevent someone from maintaining gainful employment, the person may qualify. To further add to the challenge is the fact that many mental conditions are very difficult to highlight and prove, further adding to the difficulty of getting an application approved.

Substance abuse may damage a person’s central nervous system, which may cause any number of disabilities, including but not limited to depression, anxiety, personality, and mental disorders, seizures, liver damage, gastritis, pancreatitis, and peripheral neuropathies.

The Social Security Administration may rely on drug and alcohol addiction evaluation results to determine the severity and permanency of the illness. This is important because, in order for the disability to be a qualifying mental condition for Social Security Disability benefits, one must prove that the disability or illness is expected to last at least one year or is expected to end in death.

Source:, “Disability Benefits For Substance Abuse,” Accessed on July 5, 2016

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