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What if my disability is related to a drug or alcohol struggle?

There are many people who struggle constantly with drugs or alcohol. Of course, people who have these addictions may also get sick or hurt, just like everyone else. When this happens, they may not be able to return to work because of their medical condition.

Fortunately, since Social Security disability benefits are awarded on a no-fault basis, those struggling under the weight of an addiction can still obtain benefits, provided they meet the criteria required by the Social Security Administration. This is the case even if their injury or illness was caused by their drug or alcohol problem.

However, the SSA will review the applicant's records to determine whether the applicant suffers from alcoholism or drug addiction. If there is such evidence, then the SSA will also ask whether the applicant would remain disabled if they quit using.

If the answer to the latter question is also yes, then the SSA may require the applicant to attend drug or alcohol treatment as a condition of receiving benefits. Usually, this treatment will be offered at no cost to the applicant, but the applicant will be expected to attend faithfully.

It may be embarrassing to have to admit to a drug or alcohol addiction, but it should not stop anyone from applying for benefits. Still, actually going through the process of applying for benefits can be complicated and stressful, particularly for a person also trying to recover from an addiction. An experienced Social Security attorney can help relieve some of this burden.

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Pennsylvania Bar Association Philadelphia Bar Co-Chair SSD Committee Philadelphia Bar Co-Chair SSD Committee