Can Past Substance Abuse Affect Current SSA Benefits?

When filing a disability claim with the Social Security Administration, one of the items you must provide is detailed documentation of your medical history. Additionally, you have to show to the administration either via a Claims Representative or an Administrative Law Judge (depending on if you have appealed or not) that you are unable to work due to your current condition. However, for some applicants, there is an underlying worry that past drug and alcohol problems may affect their eligibility to receive benefits. To understand this issue further, we must first determine what is considered past abuse, what the overall effects were of that abuse, and whether or not the abuse is still going on.

Past vs. Present
If you are currently addicted to drugs or alcohol, that can adversely affect your claim. The reason for this is that the Administration will try to determine if your current dependency on drugs affects your ability to work. If they can prove that your disability is either caused by or worsened by current drug and alcohol abuse, the Administration will certainly deny your claim.

However, if you can demonstrably show that drug and alcohol problems were strictly an issue in the past, and are not currently affecting your physical and mental health, then the SSA typically doesn’t approve or deny your claim based on past transgressions.

Lasting Effects of Drugs and Alcohol
One question you may be asking is: what happens if my previous drug or alcohol abuse contributed to my current condition, even if I don’t partake anymore? For example, if an alcohol addiction damaged your liver, and your functional capacity is reduced as a direct result of the damage done by alcohol, the SSA may still award you benefits. However, you must prove without any reasonable doubt that you are not currently engaging in alcoholic behavior for them to grant benefits. As far as the Administration is concerned, if you are suffering from a chronic disability, even if it was induced or worsened by drug abuse in the past, you are still eligible for benefits.

If you have any questions regarding drug and alcohol abuse and how it can affect your disability claim, contact Clauson Law today. Our Social Security attorneys in North Carolina can help you win your case, whether you are a first-time applicant or going through appeals. Don’t let the worry of past drug and alcohol abuse deter you from filing an SSD claim. Let us help you through this process so you can get benefits sooner.

Drug Abuse

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***Clauson law represents clients across the country in Social Security disability cases only. Any other matters are restricted to representation in North Carolina.