Understanding federal regulations for disability due to addiction

On Behalf of | Jul 10, 2015 | Social Security Disability

While certain types of injuries, illnesses and disabilities often make it relatively clear-cut that the individuals in Florida suffering from such afflictions may seek Social Security disability benefits, there are often confusing gray areas. One such area centers around how a decision is made if the claimant is suffering from the aftermath of an addiction to drugs and alcohol.

The Social Security Administration does not judge a claimant to be disabled if problems that have resulted from drug addiction or alcoholism, referred to as “DAA” are a material contributing factor. DAA is defined by the SSA as a substance disorder. A claimant is deemed to have DAA when there is objective medical evidence from acceptable medical sources. Some disorders from DAA are included because they could be permanent or long-lasting. These include dementia, amnesia, neurocognitive disorder, sedative-hypnotic or anxiolytic-induced disorder and hallucinogen perception disorder.

The sequential evaluation process will be used by the SSA to decide whether or the disability would have occurred even if the claimant had not been using drugs or alcohol. If the DAA is found to have been material, the claimant will be denied Social Security. DAA will be seen as material if the only impairment is the substance abuse, if the claimant’s other impairments are not seen as severe individually or if the other impairments are severe, but not disabling in and of themselves, nor do they prevent being able to perform past relevant work.

DAA is not judged as material when, if there was no DAA, the claimant would still be viewed as disabled. These include: a degenerative neurological disease, a hereditary neurological disease, kidney disease requiring dialysis on a chronic basis, intellectual disabilities, schizophrenia, the acquisition of disabling impairments while suffering from DAA such as quadriplegia after an accident or HIV after using intravenous drugs and if there are health issues such as cirrhosis of the liver.

If the criteria according to the rules are met, then it is possible to receive SSD benefits for DAA. Discussing the matter with a lawyer experienced in helping claimants receive Social Security disability is advisable to understand how to pursue benefits.


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