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Can You Get Social Security Disability Benefits if You Suffer from Alcoholism?

If you have questions about whether you or a loved one may qualify for federal disability benefits due to the effects of alcoholism, contact a Baltimore SSD lawyer at the Law Office of Emmett B. Irwin for a free case evaluation. Our Social Security attorneys are dedicated to helping clients obtain the benefits they qualify for so they can focus on what’s most important — getting the treatment they need to improve their health conditions. 

The Impact of Alcoholism on Your Daily Life

Alcoholism, also known as alcohol use disorder (AUD), is “a chronic relapsing brain disorder characterized by an impaired ability to stop or control alcohol use despite adverse social, occupational, or health consequences.”  According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), about 15 million people a year have AUD in the United States (including men, women, adults, and some adolescents). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also notes that excessive alcohol use is responsible for about 95,000 deaths in this country each year. 

To assess whether you or a loved one may suffer from AUD, the NIAAA provides several questions to ask.  A few of these questions include whether in the past year you (or a loved one) have:

  • Had times when you ended up drinking more or longer than you intended
  • Tried to cut down or stop drinking on multiple occasions but could not stop
  • Experienced a strong need or urge to drink
  • Found that drinking, or being sick from drinking, often interfered with taking care of your home or family

The more symptoms you or a loved one have, the more urgent the need to seek help from an experienced AUD health professional who can conduct a formal assessment to see if AUD is, in fact, present and what treatment is available. NIAAA provides an Alcohol Treatment Navigator that can help you identify whether you have alcoholism and locate quality treatments available to help combat this destructive disorder. Below are just a few of the resources on the navigator page:

What types of alcohol treatment are available?

Why do different people need different options?

What about costs and insurance?

The federal government has also established another resource for individuals suffering from substance abuse issues like AUD called the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, which provides resources on its websites for individuals suffering from substance abuse issues. 

Excessive use of alcohol can have severe effects on an individual’s health, including, for example, the following:

  • High blood pressure
  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Liver disease
  • Cancer

Individuals suffering from alcoholism or other substance abuse issues are encouraged to get help from a qualified professional.  

Our Baltimore SSD lawyer Explains Alcoholism and Disability Benefits

Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits are available to workers with a “qualifying disability” who meet the federal definition of disability. Typically an SSD applicant must have an impairment that prevents the applicant from working or engaging in what is known as substantial gainful activity for at least 12 months (or longer) or a condition that is likely to result in death.  

Although the SSA often won’t provide federal disability benefits to individuals who have been solely diagnosed with substance abuse disorders such as alcoholism or AUD alone, applicants may still qualify for disability benefits if they have other mental or physical impairments that do qualify. Ultimately, an SSD case examiner with the SSA will evaluate their condition to see if it meets the criteria for medical impairments provided in the SSA’s listing of impairments in the Blue Book (a guide used by the SSA to evaluate impairments).

If the SSA approves your SSD benefits but believes that you still suffer from an alcohol abuse issue, you may be required to participate in an alcohol abuse treatment program. You may also be required to obtain a representative payee to whom your SSD payments will be sent to ensure that monies paid out by the government for your benefit are not used to support an alcohol addiction. 

Need Help With Your Disability Benefits? Contact Our Baltimore Social Security Lawyers Today 

Do you or a loved one suffer from alcoholism? If so, contact an experienced Baltimore disability lawyer at the Law Office of Emmett B. Irwin.  If you would like to learn more about how we can help you, contact us today to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case. We work with clients throughout Maryland and surrounding states.