WILL DAA END YOUR CHANCE OF RECEIVING SSDI/SSI?
The Social Security Act states that an applicant for social security disability “shall not be considered to be disabled… if alcoholism or drug addiction would … be a contributing factor material to the … determination that the individual is disabled.“
Drug or Alcohol Addiction (DAA) will not disqualify you from being awarded disability benefits if you would be found disabled even if you didn’t suffer from DAA. The key factor that the Social Security Administration (SSA) will examine in determining whether drug addiction or alcoholism is a contributing factor in the determination of disability is whether SSA would still find you disabled if you stopped using drugs or alcohol.
DAA is not the same as having a history of drugs or alcohol use. Having an arrest record being pulled over for either drug or alcohol use does not establish the definition of Drug or Alcohol Addiction.
If you have other disabling physical or mental impairment(s) that are not impacted by Drug or Alcohol abuse, then DAA is not relevant and the claim for disability would be allowed. Your treating doctors, especially specialists, may have the best understanding of the clinical course of your DAA and other impairment(s), as well as whether, and the extent to which the other impairment(s) would likely improve without DAA.
As in all Social Security Disability claims, you have the burden of proving disability. In cases where DAA is involved:
- You will not have to show a period of abstinence (when you were not using drugs or alcohol) to prove that you would be disabled even if you were not using drugs or alcohol.
- If you do not have a period of abstinence, your doctor(s) can provide a medical opinion regarding whether your impairments would be disabling even if you stopped abusing drugs or alcohol.
- SSA will consider the opinion of an acceptable medical source if there is credible support for the opinion.
The Social Security Disability process is long and arduous but a key in securing a favorable outcome comes down to your medical providers. Keep your medical appointments, share with them how your disability is impacting on your ability to work, follow through on your regularly scheduled treatments and your medications. Tell them that you are filing for Disability and ask them if they will fill out a written statement (which is why it is a good idea to tell them how your disability impacts your ability to work ). We find that most physicians will complete our questionnaires if they have established a relationship with their patient. These steps are even more critical when DAA is involved.
Presenting a DAA case is complex; the above analysis does not address every factor that applies to your disability claim. If you are filing for Reconsideration or a Hearing especially where DAA is involved hiring an experienced attorney is necessary to prepare your case properly.