Many claimants for Social Security disability Benefits and Supplemental Security Income suffer substance abuse disorders. Years ago, substance abuse could be grounds for a finding of disability. Not anymore.
Social Security Regulations 20 C.F.R. § 404.1535 prevents a claimant from being disabled if drug addiction or alcoholism is a contributing factor material to the determination of disability.
What this means is that the Administrative Law Judge will first have to determine whether the claimant is disabled. If the claimant is found disabled, the Administrative Law Judge then considers whether drug addiction or alcoholism is a contributing factor material to the disability.
Drug addiction or alcoholism is material when the claimant has a medically determinable drug addiction or alcoholism and the claimant would not be disabled if he or she stopped using drugs or alcohol. In other words, does the drug addiction or alcoholism magnify the severity of the claimant’s impairments that cause the claimant to be disabled, and would the claimant still be disabled if he or she stopped using drugs or alcohol?
The outcome of the case will depend largely on the reason the claimant is alleging disability. The attorneys at our office would be happy to talk with you about how drug and/or alcohol abuse could affect your case for Social Security disability benefits or Supplemental Security Income.