Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits can be a lifesaver for people who aren’t able to remain gainfully employed due to mental or physical impairments.
What if your impairment is related to your use of alcohol or drugs? Any chemical substance you ingest has the capacity to affect everything from your ability to concentrate and follow directions to your mechanical skills or energy levels.
The proper use of prescription drugs won’t weigh against you
The Social Security Administration (SSA) recognizes that many people with disabilities suffer from chronic pain and are prescribed prescription painkillers as a result. The long-term use of these drugs can cause a chemical dependency. However, that won’t be counted against you when you file for disability benefits, since the drugs are required to manage your condition.
In addition, SSA will take into account the side effects of such drugs. If, for example, your opioid prescription causes fatigue, weakness, dizziness and drowsiness, all of those symptoms can be factored into the decision that’s made on your disability claim.
The use of street drugs and alcohol can hurt your claim
If you’re addicted to illicit drugs (anything you acquire without a prescription) or alcohol, that can negatively affect your claim. Once upon a time, addiction was considered a disability for SSD benefits, but that rule has been changed.
SSA will first consider whether or not you would even be considered disabled at all but for your use of drugs or alcohol. Then, SSA will consider whether or not any of your existing conditions or symptoms would improve if you stopped using drugs or alcohol entirely. If they believe that is true, it will only consider your disability claim based on the remaining conditions.