Will Using Drugs or Alcohol Affect My SSDI Eligibility or Benefits?

Various injuries and illnesses qualify individuals to receive Social Security disability benefits. But what if you used drugs or alcohol in the past? Will that impact your eligibility?

Use of drugs and alcohol can sometimes impact a person’s ability to receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits. If the Social Security Administration (SSA) has reason to believe that your disability was partially caused by drug or alcohol use, you might be denied benefits. The same can be said for individuals whose continued disability is caused by substance abuse. If your claim for SSDI benefits was denied because of substance abuse, you can file an appeal. It will be important for you to update your medical records and provide proof of the fact that your impairment was not caused by drug or alcohol use.

To get a free case assessment from our Arkansas disability lawyers, call our team today at (479) 316-0438.

SSDI Benefit Eligibility and Drug and Alcohol Use

Suppose the Social Security Administration is under the impression that your drug or alcohol use caused your disability or is worsening your condition and preventing you from working. In that case, it may deem you ineligible to receive Social Security Disability Insurance benefits.

Drug or Alcohol Use Before Impairment

Long-term alcohol or drug use, whether due to addiction or recreational use, can seriously affect a person’s body and mind. Medical conditions that would otherwise qualify a person for SSDI benefits might be ineligible for benefits if the conditions were caused by drug or alcohol use. Similarly, certain illnesses, like cancers, might also be somewhat caused by long-term substance abuse. Even if you do not currently engage in illicit substance use or drink alcohol, the SSA might determine that your injuries or medical conditions were caused, whether totally or in part, by drug or alcohol use. The SSA general requires those applying for SSDI benefits to send in comprehensive medical records regarding their condition and medical history, which might highlight previous drug or alcohol use, impeding a person’s ability to receive benefits.

Drug or Alcohol Use After Impairment

Medical conditions originally unrelated to drug or alcohol use can sometimes be worsened by substance abuse. Unfortunately, when individuals become severely injured or fall seriously ill, the impact on their mental health can be disastrous, causing them to use illicit substances. Suppose you are currently receiving SSDI benefits and your eligibility is reevaluated by the SSA. In that case, the SSA might consider your current drug or alcohol use to be a contributing factor to your continued impairment. If the SSA would not find you disabled if you stopped using drugs or alcohol, it will likely terminate your SSDI benefits. However, alcohol and drug use do not always contribute to illnesses or conditions that make a person eligible for SSDI benefits. In instances when drug or alcohol use is confirmed but is not determined to be a contributing factor to a person’s impairment, the SSA will continue paying benefits and likely advise the recipient to receive counseling or go to a rehabilitation center for substance abuse.

What if You Were Denied SSDI Benefits Because of Alcohol or Drug Use?

If your claim for SSDI benefits was denied or your payments were recently revoked because of drug or alcohol use, you can file an appeal. Our disability attorneys can help you gather evidence to support your appeal so that you can continue receiving monthly benefits to support you and your family.

File an Appeal

The SSA does not always get it right the first time. In fact, getting approved for SSDI benefits is often a lengthy process, even if drug or alcohol use is not involved in the decision for claim denial. However, if substance abuse was cited as the reason your claim was denied because the SSA believed that your substance abuse caused your impairment, you can file an appeal. This is best done immediately so that you are not without benefits for long. The appeals process is no less complicated than the original application process. There are four levels of appeals, depending on how far an appeal progresses. First, applicants can get a reconsideration from the SSA. During this time, the SSA will review your claim as well as any new evidence you can provide in your favor. If a reconsideration is unsuccessful, a hearing from an administrative law judge will take place. Then, there will be a review by the Appeals Council, followed by a federal court review, if necessary. Appeals must be filed within 60 days of receiving a decision regarding a claim from the Social Security Administration. You can also file an appeal for the termination of SSDI benefits because of drug or alcohol use.

Update Your Medical Records

If the SSA denied your claim on the basis of your drug or alcohol consumption, whether because of past or current substance abuse, it will be important to update your medical records. Go to a doctor to confirm whether or not substance abuse could have contributed to your disability or if your disability could have occurred without long-term use of drugs or alcohol. Suppose you are currently dependent on drugs or alcohol. In that case, working towards recovery will be important for your health and well-being and to confirm your SSDI benefit eligibility. If your disability remains when you are no longer using drugs or alcohol regularly, and your medical records confirm that substance use did not actively contribute to your disability, your claim for SSDI benefits should be approved. Routinely updating your medical records is important if you currently receive SSDI benefits, as the SSA might reevaluate your eligibility periodically.

Call Our Attorneys to File for SSDI Benefits Today

Call (479) 316-0438 to schedule a free case review with our Springdale, AR disability lawyers.