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DisabilityCan You Get Disability for Drug or Alcohol Addiction?

January 24, 2022

More than 21 million people over the age of 12 have sought treatment for substance abuse. If you have a substance abuse addiction, you may find yourself unable to work and earn a living. In this blog post, Watson and Carroll, P.C., L.L.O., discusses whether you can qualify for disability benefits because of a drug or alcohol addiction.

Social Security Disability Lawyer in Omaha and Council Bluffs 

Watson & Carroll, P.C., L.L.O.’s Social Security Disability team can help you secure benefits needed  to support yourself. Chellsie Weber, our wildly successful and experienced disability attorney, and Abby Reid, our wonderful and thorough disability paralegal, can offer support and advice as it pertains to your disability and the benefits approval process. Remember, you’re more likely to have a successful disability claim with an attorney by your side. Call us today at 402-991-2100. You also can share your story here.

How do you Medically Qualify For Disability Benefits? 

The Social Security Administration (SSA) does not award disability benefits solely for drug or alcohol addiction alone. It’s a test of “whether drug addiction or alcoholism is a contributing factor material to the determination of disability is whether we would still find a claimant disabled if he or she stopped using drugs or alcohol,” according to an explanation directly from the SSA.

The question is this: If you stopped using drugs or alcohol, would you still be disabled? Some conditions, like depression, might resolve or improve to the point the individual is no longer disabled if they were sober. With other conditions, the damage or condition may be so severe that getting sober will not improve the problem.

If your substance abuse is immaterial to your disability, you could be awarded disability benefits.

For example, if you are an alcoholic and you suffer from a chronic heart problem, you may qualify for disability benefits because of the cardiovascular condition. This is only if SSA finds your alcoholism is immaterial to the medical diagnosis.

Your claim must meet the criteria of a listing for cardiovascular conditions.

Here is another example of a successful disability claim: Let’s say you have chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD), which keeps you from working. If you are addicted to nicotine and use tobacco products, however, the SSA may decide cigarettes caused your COPD. The agency will deny your disability claim.

What is an RFC in a Disability Claim? 

If you cannot meet the specific criteria of a Blue Book listing for your disability, you may qualify using a residual functional capacity (RFC) form. This is a document completed by your physician that explains all restrictions and limitations you experience because of your medical condition. A successful RFC would explain how your medical condition keeps you from working. It should not discuss how your substance abuse addiction affects your ability to hold down a job. You, and the RFC, must show that your addiction is immaterial to your medical problems. An attorney by your side can help.

How to File a Disability Claim in Nebraska, Iowa or South Dakota 

You must provide hard medical evidence and supporting documentation to show how severe your medical condition is and prove that it keeps you from working and earning a living. You must provide a detailed work history for the last 10 years. If you do not have a work history, you will need to prove you meet the financial criteria to qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI), which is need-based and has specific financial criteria.

A disability attorney can significantly improve your chances of being awarded disability benefits. Contact the disability team at Watson and Carroll to begin the intake process.

About Watson & Carroll 

Watson & Carroll, P.C., L.L.O., is not a high-volume law firm that only speaks with clients when it is absolutely necessary. For us, it’s personal. Our team works closely with our clients and their loved ones – not only so that we understand their challenges and concerns, but so we can tailor our approach to address those factors, aggressively pursue results, and secure peace of mind. Whether it is a medical malpractice case or advocating for disability benefits, we work to protect our clients and make sure their rights are upheld.

Our disability law firm can help. Call 402-991-2100 or email contact@watsoncarroll.com. You also can fill out our confidential contact form.

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