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Our Baltimore SSD Lawyer Explains Substance Abuse and Disability Benefits

Substance abuse occurs when an individual takes drugs (such as alcohol, illegal drugs, or even prescription medicine) the wrong way or in doses that are too high. Substance abuse is different from addiction in that substance abuse users can stop their abuse but choose not to do so.  Substance addiction, however, is a disease where an individual cannot stop using a substance even when the condition is starting to harm the individual. With these devastating effects impacting daily life, it is important to consult with a Baltimore disability lawyer to learn about your options. 

Below is a list of commonly abused drugs:

  • Alcohol
  • Prescription and over-the-counter medicines
  • Illegal drugs (such as heroin, cocaine, marijuana, etc.)
  • Tobacco products

Individuals with substance abuse issues often exhibit various signs and symptoms that friends and family members should watch out for including, but not limited to, the following: lack of interest in things that used to be of interest, spending more time alone, changing friends, problems at work and at home, and strongly craving the desired substance, among other issues. 

Individuals suffering from substance abuse issues are encouraged to get proper help and treatment. The federal government assists individuals suffering from substance abuse issues in various ways. For example, the government established the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, also known as SAMHSA. SAMHSA provides many resources for individuals who need help, such as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, treatment facility referrals, a behavioral treatment services locator, a National Helpline, and more. 

Can Addiction or Substance Abuse Issues Qualify an Applicant for Social Security Disability Benefits?

Generally, 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 him or her from working or engaging in substantial gainful activity for at least 12 months (or longer) or result in death. Applicants for SSD benefits must have also worked for at least 5 of the last 10 years and paid into the Social Security program, earning enough work credits to qualify. 

Although the SSA typically will not provide SSD or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits to those with disabilities that have been solely diagnosed with substance abuse disorders alone, applicants may still be able to qualify for benefits if they have other mental or physical impairments. These impairments can include mental disorders, liver damage, or other conditions whereby the conditions are not being made disabling by the substance abuse problem. Accordingly, if an applicant has discontinued substance abuse and the disabling condition continues, or if stopping the substance abuse won’t help the disabling condition, an applicant may still qualify for benefits. An SSA case examiner will evaluate the condition to see if it meets the criteria for medical impairments provided in the SSA’s listing of impairments.  

If the SSA does approve your SSD benefits but believes that you still suffer from a substance abuse issue, you may be required to participate in a substance 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 a substance abuse addiction. 

If you have questions about whether your medical condition may qualify you for SSD benefits, even though you have or may have had a substance abuse issue, contact a Baltimore Social Security lawyer at the Law Office of Emmett B. Irwin for a free consultation. Our team will help you determine what benefits to which you may be entitled so you can focus on what’s most important — your health.

Contact a Baltimore SSD Lawyer Today for a Free Case Evaluation of Your Disability Benefits

Do you or a loved one suffer from substance abuse issues? If so, the experienced disability lawyer at the Law Office of Emmett B. Irwin is here to help you or your loved one through the disability application process every step of the way.  If you would like to learn more about how we can help you, contact our Baltimore SSD lawyer today to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case. We work with clients throughout Maryland and surrounding states.