Emma’s lifestyle finally caught up to her. Employment was out of the question as she often lost her battle with illegal drugs. Todd was unable to work due to clinical depression and liver damage caused by his years of drug abuse. Both Emma and Todd were unable to work because of a physical condition and applied for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits. They were about to learn how drug abuse and a disability claim intersect.
The First Three Tests of a Disability Claim
As Social Security Administration staff review SSDI applications, they look for three things first:
- Is the applicant working, which means making over a certain amount per month?
- Does the applicant have a medical condition expected to last at least one year?
- Does the applicant’s condition severely restrict or hinder their ability to work?
Applications that fail to meet these standards usually are denied almost immediately.
But where does drug abuse fit in?
Drug Abuse, Alone
By itself, an addiction to drugs is not typically considered a disability. Also, some serious medical conditions might improve if the drug abuse ended. If the SSA feels this is the case, benefits typically will be denied.
For example, Emma is unable to work because of her drug addiction. Based solely on the drug abuse, she probably will be denied SSDI benefits at this time.
Physical Conditions Affected by Drug Abuse
Certain diseases and conditions may be caused or exacerbated by current or past drug addiction. The SSA may approve SSDI benefits for disabling conditions, even if the condition was caused by drug abuse.
For example, we mentioned Todd in the first paragraph. He was diagnosed with both clinical depression and liver damage. His doctor ordered him not to work due to the severity of both conditions. His long-term drug abuse had caused or enhanced his medical conditions. The SSA likely will approve his request for SSDI benefits, at least at this time.
Don’t Assume You Won’t Qualify Due to Drug Abuse
If you have engaged in drug abuse, you may still be eligible for disability benefits. Get the advice of legal counsel before making your final decision.
At The Law Offices of Martin Taller, your case gets the attention and care of experienced Social Security Disability attorneys. Call us at 714-385-8100 to set up a free consultation. Though our office is conveniently located in Anaheim, we assist clients throughout Southern California.