According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, it is estimated that 52 million Americans have used prescription drugs without a prescription or beyond the prescribed use at some point in their lifetime. The latest statistics show that Americans have increased their use of marijuana while decreasing their use of alcohol and other drugs such as cocaine and heroin. Despite the decline, there are still dozens of people in Illinois who still struggle with some form of drug addiction or alcoholism, which can lead to disabling health conditions.
Disability benefits and addiction-related conditions
The Social Security Administration has set up a policy that can grant disability status to people who have, or have had an addiction to drugs or alcohol. Applicants must show that the addiction led to a disabling condition. Furthermore, applicants must also provide evidence that stopping the use of the drug or alcohol will not improve the condition. If these two factors are met, then the SSA can grant that person disability status and approve them for Social Security Disability payments.
There are several health conditions and disorders that may qualify for disability under this policy. These conditions include the following:
- Damage to the liver from alcohol consumption
- Seizures – caused by excessive alcohol use
- Personality disorders – these can emerge from drug use
- Pancreatitis – inflammation of the pancreas from excessive alcohol use
- Depression – can be caused by excessive alcohol use or psychotic drugs
- Organic mental disorders – the drug or alcohol use has permanently damaged the brain and functions such as memory and motor skills.
People’s current drug or alcohol use is not used as a determining factor by the SSA for disability. For example, if a person has been diagnosed with a mental disorder from their use of illegal drugs, and is still using those drugs, that person may still be able to receive approval for benefits.
Whether a disability was caused by drug or alcohol abuse, the qualifications for proving disability eligibility are similar to other conditions. Applicants must provide medical proof from medical physicians and/or mental health professionals that show a diagnosis was made. Furthermore, medical tests will be required by the SSA as well as a complete list of prescription drugs given for the condition, therapy treatment and any hospitalization.
Lack of sufficient evidence could lead to a denial of benefits as an SSA evaluator may determine that the disability is the addiction itself, and not the actual health condition. Therefore, people who struggle with an addiction-related disability should discuss their situation with an experienced SSD attorney.