People of all ages and from all walks of life suffer from substance abuse. For some people, it’s an addiction to alcohol. For others, it’s illegal or even prescription drugs they may have started taking after an injury or surgery. Some become dependent on an especially dangerous combination of alcohol and drugs.
What if you also have a disability or health condition that makes it impossible to work? Will your substance abuse prevent you from being able to get the Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits you need to support yourself?
Substance abuse doesn’t qualify as a condition for which you can get SSD benefits. However, if you’re suffering from a medical condition or disability and you also have a substance abuse problem, you may still be able to get benefits.
Did the substance abuse cause or worsen your medical condition?
It depends on whether your alcohol and/or drug problem contributes to or caused your medical condition. If so, and if stopping their use would allow you to be well enough to work, then you’re likely not going to qualify for SSD benefits because your substance abuse is considered material to the medical condition.
If your substance abuse is found to have no material effect on your condition, then you may qualify for SSD benefits. However, you may have to get treatment for your substance abuse to receive their benefits. Further, a representative payee may be assigned to receive and manage the benefits.
The determination of materiality is made by health care professionals and disability examiners. There are some exceptions where this material test isn’t used, so it’s important that you provide all the details required and answer honestly.
If you believe you’ve been wrongly denied SSD benefits because of your substance abuse or if you would like to get a better idea of whether you’ll qualify for them, it’s wise to see experienced legal guidance.