Baltimore Social Security Disability Lawyers: Impact of Drugs and AlcoholApril 18, 2017
When an individual applies for Social Security disability benefits, there is no guarantee that the application will be approved. The Social Security Administration (SSA) considers a wide range of factors when reviewing an application, including the nature of the disability, the applicant’s age, their past work experience, and education. One issue that is a red flag for most Social Security administrators is if an applicant has a history of drug or alcohol abuse. However, whether the SSA denies a claim because of drug or alcohol use depends on the applicant’s medical condition and if the drugs or alcohol make the condition worse.
If the SSA determines that the applicant’s drug or alcohol abuse is a material contributing factor to his or her medical impairment, it is unlikely that their application for Social Security disability benefits will be approved. The materiality of a condition is based on the following questions:
- Is the applicant’s condition caused by, or made worse by the use of drugs or alcohol?
- If the applicant stopped using drugs, would the condition improve to a degree that it was no longer disabling?
If the answer to these questions is “yes,” then the drug or alcohol use would be considered material to the medical condition. Therefore, the application for benefits would likely be denied. However, if the applicant has a condition that is severely debilitating, and is not caused by or made worse by the use of drugs or alcohol, it is possible that the applicant could receive disability benefits.
How Does Discontinuing Drugs or Alcohol Consumption Affect the Condition?
As part of the application process, a physician who is employed by the Disability Determination Services (DDS) will submit a report, offering his or her opinion as to the effect that discontinuing the use of drugs or alcohol will have on the applicant’s medical condition. In addition, the SSA will contact the applicant’s physician to determine whether he or she has an addiction to drugs or alcohol, and whether quitting either substance could have an impact on the condition. If the case is appealed, the judge can make his or her own decision based on regulations regarding drug and alcohol abuse, not on the opinion of the physician who is treating the applicant.
Applicants whose disability stems from psychiatric or emotional conditions, and who also use drugs or alcohol, will have a difficult time proving that their substance use is not the cause of their condition. In fact, according to most psychologists and psychiatrists, even moderate consumption of alcohol can lead to depression. If a mental health professional includes “suspected use” in their treatment notes, even if it has not been proven, it can influence the SSA’s decision, making it unlikely that the applicant will receive benefits.
Baltimore Social Security Disability Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Help Applicants Obtain Benefits
If you suffer from a disabling condition that prevents you from being able to work, the Baltimore Social Security disability lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton are on your side. We will guide you through every step of the appeals process and ensure that you have the necessary documentation, including medical records and notes from your physician, that will help build a strong case. Our dedicated legal team will fight hard to secure the benefits you deserve. To set up a free consultation, call us today at 800-547-4LAW (4529) or contact us online.
Our offices are located in Baltimore, Columbia, Glen Burnie, and Towson, allowing us to represent clients throughout Maryland, including those in Anne Arundel County, Carroll County, Harford County, Howard County, Montgomery County, Maryland’s Western Counties, Southern Maryland, and the Eastern Shore, as well as the communities of Catonsville, Essex, Halethorpe, Middle River, Rosedale, Gwynn Oak, Brooklandville, Dundalk, Pikesville, Parkville, Nottingham, Windsor Mill, Lutherville, Timonium, Sparrows Point, Ridgewood, and Elkridge.