Is Alcoholism Considered A Disability
Oftentimes, clients or potential clients want to know whether alcoholism and other forms of addiction are medical conditions for which disability benefits are allowed. If the condition is severe, why would people suffering from it not be entitled to the same kinds of assistance as those suffering from other severe medical conditions?
Unfortunately, many people dont understand how the law works in cases of disability for alcoholism. The law may seem clear, but you could still be qualified for disability benefits because of alcohol and drug addiction.
The SSA administers the law very strictly. To receive benefits, the SSA must conclude that a claimant:
- is disabled, and
- that drug abuse or alcoholism is not a contributing factor material to a claimants disability determination
If substance abuse is a material factor, the claimant is unlikely to be found disabled and will not receive SSA disability benefits. This is frequently very difficult for a claimant to accept. It is also challenging for an attorney who has examined the evidence, listened to the claimants story, and knows that the SSA will deny benefits.
The SSA must apply several laws, rules, and procedures when determining entitlement to disability benefits. These aspects often do not work in the claimants favor when the claimant is an alcoholic or addict.
Alcoholism Or Addiction As A Secondary Factor
There are situations where alcoholism or drug addiction may be a secondary factor contributing to a disability. This is typically the case when a person abuses alcohol or drugs over an extended period. This may leave a person with permanent medical conditions.
For instance, an alcoholic person may develop a damaged liver after excessively abusing alcohol over a long period. This medical condition is not likely to go away even if the person stopped drinking now. If the liver damage is severe enough to prevent the person from earning a meaningful wage, he may qualify for disability benefits.
This is because alcoholism is no longer a material factor in the disability application. Instead, the liver condition is the material factor whereas alcoholism is a secondary factor. The same principle may apply where drug addiction is no longer a material factor.
It is also possible that you suffer from a disability that is separate and distinct from your alcoholism or drug addiction. A person who suffers from schizophrenia and is an alcoholic, for instance, may qualify for disability benefits. This is because schizophrenia is the primary material factor in the disability case, and not alcoholism.
Do Alcoholics Get Pip
A common misconception is that alcoholics are not eligible for disability benefits, including Personal Independence Payment . However, this is not the case. While specific eligibility criteria must be met to receive PIP, alcoholism is not a disqualifying factor.There are two main types of PIP: a daily living component and a mobility component. The daily living component is for those who need help with activities such as dressing, washing, or using the toilet. The mobility component is for those who need help walking or moving around.To be eligible for the daily living component, a person must have difficulty with at least two of the following activities:Preparing or eating foodReading and communicatingManaging their medicines or treatments.To be eligible for the mobility component, a person must have difficulty with at least one of the following activities:Planning or following journeysMoving around outside of the home.PIP is not means-tested, which means that it is not based on your income or savings. It is also not affected by whether you are at work or not. An independent assessor conducting a face-to-face assessment will assess whether or not you are eligible for PIP. This assessment will look at your ability to carry out activities rather than your diagnosis of alcoholism.
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Can I Get Disability Benefits For Drug Or Alcohol Addiction
Being that SUDs are considered disabilities under the ADA, you may be entitled to receive behavioral health benefits. However, this applies to situations where an impairment, or disability, persists outside of drug or alcohol use. According to the SSA, this determination involves:9
- Establishing that you have a disability.
- Confirming medical evidence of your drug or alcohol addiction.
- Determining whether your impairment would continue even after stopping the use of drugs or alcohol.
If you are eligible to receive paid benefits, then the SSA requires that you receive treatment services at an approved facility when it is available and that you comply with the terms, conditions, and requirements of the treatment that has been made available to you.10 These services are typically provided at no cost.
Benefits that people get under social security/disability include:11
- Social Security Disability Insurance. Pays benefits if you are insured, which means that you must have worked long enough, and recently enough, in jobs covered by Social Security to qualify for disability benefits.
- Supplemental Security Income. Designed to help persons with disabilities that have little or no income and provides cash to meet basic needs, such as shelter, food, and clothing.
Social Security Wont Penalize You For Continuing To Use Drugs Or Alcohol While In Treatment
If you are in treatment for alcoholism, you will not be penalized by Social Security for your continued use of drugs or alcohol.
Although federal law and regulations state that Social Security should not penalize you for continuing to use alcohol or drugs while in treatment, the regulations are not as clear.
SSA regulations and laws only address certain circumstances where drug or alcohol use contributes to impairment severity.
Depending on the type of treatment program you seek, the cost can be very high.
If you are uninsured, you may need to apply for private financing.
However, some addiction treatment centers offer scholarships for those who cant afford to pay the full price.
Check with the admissions office at the treatment facility to determine if they offer such scholarships.
In addition, some rehabs offer payment plans after discharge.
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Service Members Drink More Than People In Other Jobs
A 2017 Centers for Disease Control study found the U.S. military is Americas heaviest drinking profession. According to the National Health Interview Study, people in the armed forces drank on average 130 days a year more than people in any other industry. The average in the study was 91 days.
The study also revealed that service members binge drink more than people in other jobs at least four to five drinks in one sitting an average of 41 days per year.
Excessive drinking only continues when active-duty service members become veterans. A 2017 Institute of Medicine study found that in one month, veterans were more likely to use alcohol and to partake in heavy alcohol use than the general population.
When Is Alcoholism A Va Disability
Many veterans believe they cant service-connect alcoholism or drug abuse to receive disability benefits from the United States Department of Veterans Affairs . However, thats a common myth. The critical component for this type of disability claim is whether a veterans alcoholism, also referred to as alcohol use disorder , is related to a secondary illness or condition that can be service-connected to time spent in the military.
While its true that the VA refuses to consider some disorders as service-connectedthose that clearly aren’t related to a veterans time in the militaryif the veteran can prove that his AUD disability is secondary to a service-connected disorder or aggravated by one, its possible for the veteran to receive compensation for it.
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Qualifying For Disability Benefits With Alcoholism
The Social Security Administration cannot find you disabled based solely on your diagnosis of chronic alcoholism. However, many of those who struggle with alcoholism have physical or behavioral changes as a result of their disease. These changes can limit their ability to function in a work situation, and their chronic use of alcohol causes that. The SSA will not treat your claim differently because your impairment is a result of chronic alcoholism. If you are still drinking, however, and the SSA believes that if you stopped drinking your medical conditions would improve to the point of not being disabled, you will not get disability benefits.
If your condition meets the requirement of the Social Security Administrations disability listing for one of the disorders we discuss below, and if your impairment would still meet the requirements even though you quit drinking alcohol, you will be found disabled.
Answer A Few Questions To Check Your Eligibility
The Social Security Administration cannot find you disabled based solely on your diagnosis of chronic alcoholism. However, many people who suffer from chronic alcoholism have physical or behavioral changes that limit their ability to function in a work situation and that are caused by their chronic use of alcohol. The SSA will not treat your claim any worse because your impairment is a result of chronic alcoholism.
However, if you are still drinking, and the SSA believes that if you stopped drinking your medical conditions would improve to the point where you would not be disabled, you won’t get disability benefits. For more information, see our article Can You Get Disability If You’ve Alcohol or Drugs?
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Alcoholism Or Addiction As A Material Factor
In SSA policy terms, a material factor is a contributing factor material to the determination of the disability. In other words, it is the factor that directly contributes to the condition giving rise to the disability. If this factor is taken away, the disability also likely goes away.
To illustrate this more clearly, consider this example. An alcoholic person routinely consumes heavy amounts of alcohol. This leads to liver problems as well as an inability to earn a meaningful wage. However, if this person stops drinking, the liver problems are non-critical enough to go away. At the same time, the person would be able to get a meaningful wage if he or she stopped drinking. So alcoholism is a material factor in this case.
As per SSA policy since 1996, you cant get disability benefits if alcoholism or drug addiction is a material factor in your case. In simpler words, SSA no longer recognizes alcoholism or drug addiction as a disability in itself. SSA Code of Federal Regulations also lays out how the agency determines whether alcoholism or drug addiction is a material factor.
Can You Get A Va Disability For Alcoholism
Veterans can receive disability ratings for alcohol-related conditions as long as the alcoholism was not a product of the veterans own willful misconduct.
The Veterans Affairs rates disabilities on a scale from 0 to 100 percent, in 10-percent increments. The severity of the disability will determine the percentage awarded.
A veteran who cannot work due to alcoholism may be entitled to a 100-percent disability. A veteran must have proof of service-connected alcoholism to receive benefits, such as discharge papers showing alcohol dependence or drug addiction.
A diagnosis from a VA doctor is also required. The VA will not award benefits for conditions that are not service-connected, such as pre-existing alcoholism or alcohol abuse that did not result from the veterans military service.
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Alcoholism And The Ada
The Americans with Disabilities Act defines alcoholism and drug addiction as disabilities. Since alcohol addiction is considered a mental impairment, employers cannot take action against an employee solely because of this disability. It also means that employees cannot be disciplined just because they have an alcohol addiction, and there must be reasonable accommodations made for the disability. Failure to provide accommodations to someone with alcohol addiction would be illegal discrimination under the ADA.
People who attend rehab typically need to take time off work, which is another situation covered by the ADA. According to the ADA, an employer would have to grant time off from work for treatment for certain employees if it does not create undue hardship for the employer.
Although the ADA identifies alcohol addiction as a disability, it does not excuse someone from coming to work under the influence or failing to show up due to drinking. Employees must continue following workplace policies and can still be reprimanded for violating policies, even if they struggle with alcoholism.
Alcohol Use Despite Known Consequences
Because alcohol is an addictive substance and alcohol use disorder is, by nature, the continued, compulsive and problematic use of alcohol, you may continue to drink even after you know it is causing problems. Drinking after you are aware of a mental or physical health condition directly related to alcohol use is one of the criteria of AUD.
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Service Connection For Alcoholism: When Does Va Grant It
Veterans cannot be directly service-connected for alcoholism however, they can be service-connected on a secondary basis for conditions that arise from alcoholism, if the alcoholism is due to a service-connected condition. For example, a veteran is service-connected for PTSD and uses alcohol to cope with their psychological symptoms and sleep disturbances. As a result of this prolonged alcohol use, the veteran develops cirrhosis of the liver. This veteran may be able to receive service-connected compensation for their cirrhosis of the liver on a secondary basis. Here, the veterans alcoholism serves as an intermediate step between their service-connected PTSD and cirrhosis. In other words, alcoholism can potentially be used as a bridge to connect a veterans primary service-connected condition to the secondary condition they developed as a result of their alcoholism.
Importantly, veterans can receive disability ratings for alcohol-related conditions as long as the alcoholism was not a product of the veterans own willful misconduct. VA defines willful misconduct as an act involving conscious wrongdoing or known prohibited action. If VA wants to deny benefits based on a veterans willful misconduct, it must prove by a preponderance of evidence that the cause of the veterans condition is in line with the definition provided above.
Can I Get Shortterm Disability For Alcohol Addiction And Substance Use
If you suffer from alcohol addiction or substance use, you may be wondering if you can qualify for short-term disability benefits. The answer to this question depends on several factors, including the severity of your condition and whether you can maintain employment while receiving treatment.
In general, to qualify for short-term disability benefits, you must be unable to work for some time due to your condition. However, if you can work with reasonable accommodation or restrictions, you may not be eligible for benefits.
For example, if you are in an inpatient treatment program for alcohol addiction, you would likely not be able to maintain employment and would therefore qualify for benefits.
It is important to note that even if the employee is eligible for short-term disability benefits, the employer may still require you to take a leave of absence from work. This is because addiction and substance use are severe medical conditions that can impact your ability to perform your job duties.
If youre struggling with an addiction, dont try to go it alone. Seek professional help and start on the path to recovery today.
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Alcoholism Is A Serious Medical Condition Which Impacts An Individuals Employment As Well As Their Personal Life
If you are unable to work because of the effects of alcoholism, whether or not you are eligible for Social Security Disability benefits is a difficult question to answer. An attorney experienced in Social Security Disability can help you evaluate your case and your chances for approval.
In order to qualify for Social Security Disability, you will need to satisfy a few specific requirements in two categories as determined by the Social Security Administration.
The first category is the Work Requirements which has two tests.
The second category is the Medical Eligibility Requirement.
How Does My Current Substance Abuse Affect My Benefits
It is strongly recommended that as soon as you consider applying for benefits you cease using drugs or alcohol. If you continue to struggle with an ongoing substance abuse problem and the SSA suspects this, it is likely that they will only issue your benefits to a representational payee. In some instances, they may also require that you enter a treatment program.
A representational payee is someoneit could be a friend, family member, or member of a qualified organizationthat is responsible for overseeing your benefit checks and financial spending so you do not spend the money on drugs or alcohol.
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What If I Had A Substance Abuse Disorder In The Past
If you are currently sober but have struggled in the past with a substance abuse disorder, it may be wise to seek the assistance of an attorney that specializes in Social Security Disability cases. They will review your medical records and assist you in better preparing your case and application.
Additionally, we suggest that you work closely with medical professionals that are familiar with your circumstances, history, and the nature of the claim. Having a team of professionals may allow you the advocacy and preparation that could make a difference when your claim approaches the Disability Determination Services .