How does drug addiction or alcoholism affect SSDI?

Oct 10, 2022 | Social Security Disability

Drug abuse and alcoholism are common in this country. Both conditions can make it difficult for a person to earn a living. Addiction is considered a mental health condition by many medical professionals, but it isn’t something that qualifies for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). 

For people with a qualifying condition that’s expected to last 12 months or result in death, having an addiction won’t necessarily disqualify them from receiving SSDI as long as they meet the program’s other requirements for disability.

When can addiction affect SSDI?

The Social Security Administration uses specific criteria to determine if substance abuse will impact a person’s ability to receive benefits. They will evaluate whether:

  • You would still have a disability if you stopped using drugs or alcohol. If so, you aren’t eligible for benefits.
  • You would recover from any of your conditions if you stopped using drugs or alcohol. If so, then your disability application has to be evaluated based only on the conditions that would remain.

People using prescription medications that are addictive, like opioids, won’t be subjected to this two-question test, but only so long as they are using the medication as prescribed. In that case,  SSA can consider the effects of the medications on your ability to function when determining your eligibility.

Filing for SSDI requires you to ensure you have everything filled out correctly and completely. There’s a good chance it will be denied during the initial review. Having someone on your side who can assist with the appeal is beneficial because these matters can become complex.