Substance Abuse Is No Joke: Does Alcoholism Make You Eligible for Disability Benefits?

by | Feb 27, 2019 | Health Featured

Substance abuse is a rising problem in the United States and even around the world. The opioid crisis has taught us substance abuse knows no bounds. Those who are addicted find themselves losing sight of what life is really about -living! Now, many medical scientists have come to the conclusion substance abuse is a disease of the brain and cannot be cured, though it can be put into remission. Does such a disease qualify a sufferer for disability benefits?

Why Is Substance Abuse a Brain Disease?

Substance abuse is a brain disorder because it changes the circuitry of the brain. The circuits that undergo the changes are those that are responsible for stress, reward, and self-control. Addicts simply cannot control the impulses that cause them to use and abuse drugs. Without medical intervention, it is often impossible to control urges and impulsivity. Although medical science is leaning towards categorizing substance abuse as a disease, does this mean individuals who suffer from addiction can qualify for disability?

Is Substance Abuse a Recognized Disability?

There is no yes or no answer to this question. According to the Social Security Code of Federal Regulations, alcohol and drug addiction can be used as a contributing factor to disability. In other words, you will need to have true limitations that prevent you from working. Many addicts suffer from physical and mental health issues and these can be listed in addition to the substance abuse and addiction problems.

Medical records are essential for proving there is a true problem with substance abuse. The longer the individual has suffered from this condition, the better the chances of them being able to prove it has impeded their ability to function normally. It is also helpful if the individual has other medical conditions that are recognized by the Social Security Code of Federal Regulations. The process of filing for disability is sometimes a lengthy one, but there are addicts who do get approved.

Should You See a Lawyer?

Filing for disability is not always easy. Qualified individuals are often denied when they first file and must go through the appeal’s process for approval. Sometimes, individuals end up needing to hire a national disability attorney.

Disability lawyers understand Social Security Disability rules and regulations. They can help addicts by assessing their physical and mental health diagnoses to determine if there is enough medical backing to pursue disability benefits.

In most cases, disability lawyers work on contingency arrangements. This means the individual does not owe the lawyer’s fees unless they win the appeal and begin receiving their benefits. The amount owed to the lawyer comes out as a percentage of the first lump sum that is paid to the disabled client.


Dealing with a substance abuse addiction can be devastating for the addict and everyone who cares for them. Sometimes, it can be a long battle pursuing disability benefits, but addicts should not give up. There are many resources available, including disability attorneys who can help in the process. In the end, it simply takes time and dedication to fight for your rights to receive disability benefits. It is your right as a citizen of the United States to be able to receive benefits if you have a true disability.

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