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Can Drugs and Alcohol Keep You From Getting Disability Benefits?

There is a public perception that those who suffer from drug abuse or alcoholism (DAA) will never be granted approval for disability benefits. That isn't to say, however, that benefits are granted purely on the basis of an alcoholism or drug addiction diagnosis. In the middle of these two myths is the truth – while drugs and alcohol don’t always impact your chances of eligibility for benefits, that doesn’t mean it never will.

A disability claim can be denied by Social Security if it is determined that the individual’s drug and alcohol addiction is a major factor that contributes to his or her disability. If the individual, however, would still meet the requirements without the drug and alcohol abuse, Social Security will consider their case.

To determine if drug or alcohol addiction is material to the determination of disability, Social Security will ask the following questions:

  • Is there a history of DAA?
  • Is the addiction the only impairment?
  • Would the individual still be eligible for disability without DAA?
  • Does DAA make a significant impact on the individual’s medical impairments?

Mental Impairments Caused by DAA

There are some cases where DAA will cause mental impairments, such as depression and anxiety. While it’s extremely difficult to prove whether these specific mental impairments would still exist in the absence of the abuse and addiction, the opinion and testimonies of medical professionals who routinely treated the claimant will be heavily relied on to make a determination on the claimant's eligibility.

Those who are struggling with drug abuse or alcoholism are facing an uphill battle when it comes to applying for disability benefits. With proper representation, however, a successful outcome is certainly possible. At Coats & Todd, our Dallas social security disability lawyers have more than 40 years of combined experience and are committed to providing attentive legal counsel.

We proudly represent clients throughout the entire Dallas Fort Worth Metro Area. Call (888) 898-9189 or schedule a free case evaluation with us online.