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Social Security Disability Attorney In Los Angeles


This is NOT legal advice. This blog provides general information about Social Security Disability cases. To discuss your particular

circumstances and claim, please contact a lawyer in your area. Please feel free to contact Disability Advocates Group at (800) 935-3170

or online if you have any questions regarding your Social Security Disability claim.


DAG Blog

Stay up to date on the latest news in social security disability law.

What is a Continuing Disability Review?

Every so often, the Social Security Administration will review your case to ensure that you still qualify for disability benefits. If the administration discovers that your condition has improved so as to allow you to return to work, your benefits will then end. For the most part, it's far easy to pass through a disability review than it is to have initial benefits approved in your case. 

These reviews will typically occur every three or seven years, based on the chances that your condition may improve. If you have a condition that is expected to improve, the review will more than likely be three years out. Those individuals under the age of 50 also have a chance of being reviewed more often. 

For children, claims are reviewed when the minor reaches age 18. At that point, adult standards will apply. There are other scenarios, too, under which your claim may be reviewed, including you returning to work, an introduction of a new treatment for your condition, a third party informant telling SSA that you are no longer following your treatment guidelines, you informing the administration yourself that your condition has gotten better, or the existence of medical evidence showing a marked improvement in your condition. 

You will be notified by mail if your claim is being reviewed. Based on the likelihood of your condition improving, you will be sent either a short or long form to fill out. Any updated evidence in terms of your medical condition should also be submitted at this time. 

So long as you haven't returned to work on your own, the administration will conduct an evaluation of whether there is medical improvement in your condition. If they come to the conclusion that your condition has improved, your disability benefits may be discontinued. How they arrive at such a decision can be overwhelming and confusing, which is why it's important to retain an experienced Social Security disability attorney early on. Doing this can help you make you aware of what to expect and to help you in the event that your claim is denied or that your benefits are revoked. 

 

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Over 75% of Social Security Disability Claims Appealed to Appeals Council are Denied

The Social Security Disability Administration’s Appeals Council released their approval and denial numbers for the fiscal year 2013.  The numbers show that 76.87% of Social Security Disability claims appealed to the Appeals Council were denied. Only 17.11% were remanded back to the Administrative Law Judge and about 1.45% were overturned for a favorable decision.  These statistics demonstrate how vitally important it is for Social Security Disability claimants to ensure that they present their best case before the Social Security Administration and the Administrative Law Judge.  This can help Social Security Disability claimants win earlier in the process or, at the very least, establish the best case for any future appeals.  Hiring an attorney experienced in representing Social Security Disability claimants can help ensure that you win your Social Security Disability case.

“When you hire an attorney to represent you in your Social Security Disability claim, they should make sure that your forms are completed properly and on time, that your medical records are ordered and properly submitted, and that you are completely prepared for your hearing,” said Michelle Shvarts, Managing Attorney at Disability Advocates Group.  “If your case is properly prepared, the chance of having your case remanded or receiving a favorable decision from the Appeals Council is much higher.”

Seeking representation from an experienced Social Security Disability attorney can help ensure your chances for winning your Social Security Disability case.  An attorney should answer any questions you may have about the process of obtaining Social Security Disability, assist you with completing all Social Security documentation properly and timely, request and obtain all your medical documentation, properly prepare you for your hearing, and prepare the case for an appeal if one is necessary.

“Getting Social Security Disability takes time and persistence,” said Shvarts, “and at Disability Advocates Group we are with you at every step of the process.”

For more information on Social Security Disability benefits and what an experienced attorney can do for you, click here.

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How many doctors should send supporting evidence for my SSDI claim?

If you regularly meet with several doctors about the issue for which you are seeking disability payments, it may be to your benefit to get documentation from each of them about your condition. It's worth knowing that you can send as many letters to Social Security as you would like.

Every doctor who is treating you in some way for the medical condition tied to your disability application should write a statement to help support your case. Especially if there are two components to your application, you should have a minimum of two letters sent on your behalf. Applying, for example, with a mental condition and a physical impairment, would use a letter from every doctor who is treating you for each of those conditions. A primary care doctor should also send a letter, but make sure you speak to all the specialists you work with as well. In this case, more evidence is better, as it backs up the true nature of your claim. 

In the event of a mental condition, your psychiatrist or psychologist should sent a detailed letter in to Social Security. If you have only seen a doctor once or a handful of times, think about including letters from physicians you see more regularly. Medical evidence from your own treating doctors has to be weighed more heavily in your application when compared with Social Security doctors since your own physicians likely have more information about your condition and a longer time working with it. 

Your doctors should send a medical source state about your exact limitations. A brief letter won't be very helpful in your application. Information about your diagnosis, treatments that have been attempted, and a professional opinion about what you are able to do with your limitations should all be included. Sending more information about your condition is always helpful in the total evaluation. Doctor statements from physicians that have been helping treat your condition for some time can be extremely valuable in the evaluation of your disability claim. Ask physicians sooner rather than later to write an evaluation for you so that you are prepared with a complete application. 

 

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The Stages of an SSDI Appeal

Do not reapply if you have been denied SSDI benefits. Instead, the best course of action is to submit an appeal. Appeals are available at all levels of decisions except for federal district court. If you lose in federal district court, you can decide to pass on fighting for benefits or to start a new claim for benefits. 

For most states, your first stop is reconsideration. Within sixty days after the date of denial, you can go through the reconsideration review. This step has been eliminated in several states, including Alabama, Alaska, parts of California, Colorado, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, New Hampshire, New York, and Pennsylvania. 

The next stage, or the first if you live in one of the states above, is a hearing before an administrative law judge. If you went through reconsideration and were denied, you can request a hearing within 60 days after that decision is handed down. At this stage, it' strongly recommended you have legal representation. 

Finally, if you are denied at this hearing, you can enter a review by the Appeals Council. A judge's decision is evaluated for mistakes that are either substantial or technical. At this stage, the Appeals Council can take one of a few actions: reversing a judge's decision, ordering that a second hearing be scheduled, or issuing another denial. 

Finally, the last stage of appeal for someone applying for disability benefits is to go to federal district court. At this point, you should have retained an experienced SSDI attorney to help you navigate this process. It can be time-consuming and frustrating to attempt figuring all of this out on your own. Especially since it can be irritating to be continuously denied at each level of the process when you believe that you meet all the qualifications for SSDI benefits, having an attorney is also helpful in putting together a best strategy for your case. 

Being denied for benefits is certainly frustrating, but you don't have to give up there. There are several levels to the appeals process, and hiring a qualified SSDI attorney to help you from the get go is one way to reduce your stress and ensure that your case is handled professionally. 

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What Evidence Do I Need For A Mental Disability Claim?

In determining whether a mental disability claim will be approved, Social Security considers several different types of information. The agency is specifically looking at whether you have evidence of a "medically determinable impairment" that has either lasted or is expected to last for a year. The mental condition must be so severe that it impairs your ability to work. 

You must submit an application to begin with that includes all of your conditions and the various ways that it affects your ability to work. You will also need to submit an ADL questionnaire that discusses your activities of daily living that are affected by your impairment.

You will also need medical records that back up your claim. Social Security has to review all medical records for 12 months prior to the date of your benefits application. On your application, you'll submit names of all treatment providers. With mental conditions, you may be required to go through psychiatric or neurological testing, too. 

One of the most critical components of your evidence is treatment notes from the mental health professionals you see. These notes will include information about your medication prescribed, your treatment plan, and your prognosis. You may also want to ask your doctor about filling out a mental residual functional capacity form, too, since Social Security has to give some consideration to your own doctor's comments about your condition. In putting your application together, spend some time thinking about any other people who may be able to comment on the extent of your application. 

Social Security may consider other evidence that you submit or you may be asked to submit additional documentation. The more information you provide up front, the better the chances that Social Security will be able to review your application in full more quickly. 

Working with an SSDI lawyer can greatly help you in the process of sending in your disability application. You'll be able to get all your questions answered and understand the overall procedure better when working with an experienced attorney. Contact an SSDI attorney today to ensure the most efficient submission and processing of your SSDI application for mental disability. 

 

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Los Angeles Social Security Disability Attorney Weighs in on New Study Regarding Bipolar and Alcohol Use

As anyone who is familiar with the Social Security Administration’s rules regarding alcohol use and disability will tell you, a claimant’s use of alcohol or other illegal substances will make it much harder to win a Social Security Disability claim based on a mental illness such as bipolar.  Indeed, the Social Security Administration can use evidence of alcohol use to demonstrate that your symptoms are a result of alcoholism and, therefore, that you are not disabled.  A new study demonstrates, however, that individuals with bipolar disorder who consume alcohol do not actually experience significant changes in their self-reported mood states with increased consumption of alcohol.  While this study is not likely enough to dissuade a decision maker from making a particular decision, hopefully it will begin to change the discussion to show that alcoholism doesn’t necessarily interfere or increase bipolar disorder symptomatology.  Indeed, many individuals who suffer from bipolar disorder use alcohol or other substances in an effort to self-medicate.
 
 
For more information, click here: http://www.news-medical.net/news/20140403/Excessive-alcohol-use-does-not-alter-course-of-bipolar-mood-states.aspx

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The Effect of Back Pain – Los Angeles Social Security Disability Attorneys

A new study suggests that doctors should take into account the social ramifications that back pain can have on an individual.  A team of researchers at Warwick Medical School found that low back pain can lead to problematic relationships, people withdrawing from society and isolation and depression.  These external effects must also be taken into account by the Social Security Administration and the judges when assessing an Social Security Disability claimant’s case. Indeed, the ramifications from experiencing pain are much greater than the pain itself.  As attorneys practicing Social Security Disability, we have seen these consequences and have heard your stories.  We understand that pain can affect so many aspects of your life.  That’s why we fight for you to get the Social Security Disability benefits you need and deserve.  It is also why we understand that you may not be able to complete this process without assistance and advocacy and we help you through each step of the process.  If you have severe low back pain that keeps you from working, contact us or any experienced attorney to determine if they can help you receive Social Security Disability (SSDI or SSI) benefits.
 
For more information, click here: http://medicalxpress.com/news/2014-03-doctors-greater-weight-effects-pain.html

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Can I Get Back Payments for Social Security Disability?

The good news is that in many cases when a claimant is awarded Social Security benefits as a result of disability, back payments are very likely in order. The bad news is that the reason for such back payments is due to the length of time it can take to process a disability claim. There are three primary factors that will influence your back payments. 

To start with, you'll need to know when you applied for disability benefits. You may be entitled to receive benefits dated back to your application day. In addition, you may be entitled to retroactive payments for the year before your application date. Bear in mind that retroactive payments are only applicable for SSDI and not SSI. In cases where the disability is based on SSI, back benefits can go as far back as the first of the month in which the applicant submitted the claim. 

The second vital factor regarding your entitlement to back pay is the date of your disability. This is the date on which your disability started. When you submit your claim application, you need to enter the "alleged onset date" that you believe is the day when the disability began. If you have already been approved, you'll be given an "established onset date" that is handed down by an administrative law judge or disability examiner after a review of your records. Your back payments will depend on the established onset date, bearing in mind the influence of a waiting period. 

After you have been approved for SSDI and given an established date of onset, five months of benefits will be eliminated. This is because of a procedural five month waiting periods. This is important to remember, especially if your established date of onset is later than what you expected. If you are awarded back payments under your SSDI claim, be prepared for that to be paid in one lump sum. SSI back payments are split up depending on the amount. 

It is not only possible, but rather common, to receive SSDI back payments. To learn more about the process and what to expect, consult with your SSDI attorney. 

 

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Depression and Your Genes

A new study suggests that the cause of depression may be linked to a variant of the genes for a brain chemical called galanin.  A few studies suggest that galanin may play a role in stress and anxiety.

Read the full story at: http://www.livescience.com/44324-genes-make-people-prone-to-depression.html

If you are dealing with a severe mental health issue, such as depression or anxiety, and medication and treatment is not effectively controlling your mental health issues, you may be unable to work.  If that is the case, you may be eligible for Social Security Disability benefits.  Social Security Disability benefits can not only provide an income when you are unable to work but can also provide you with medical benefits when you can no longer afford medical insurance.  If you are struggling with a mental health issue such as depression or anxiety, contact an experienced attorney to determine whether you may be eligible for Social Security Disability benefits.  

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A New Study Finds that 1 in 10 People Suffer From Lower Back Pain

According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), Americans spend at least $50 billion each year on lower back pain.  Lower back pain is now the No. 1 cause of job disability around the world.  For some people, lower back pain can be controlled but for others treatment proves more difficult.   If you are dealing with severe lower back pain, you know how difficult that can be.  If it prevents you from working, you should consider applying for Social Security Disability benefits (SSDI or SSI).  These benefits can provide a vital life line while you are unable to work and medical benefits to help you get the necessary medical treatment.  Applying for SSDI or SSI benefits based on your back condition can be complicated.  Contacting an attorney experienced with dealing with Social Security Disability cases can significantly help improve your chances of receiving these benefits.

For more information, click here: http://time.com/36242/lower-back-pain-is-no-1-cause-of-disability-worldwide/

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Getting Both SSI and SSDI

You may be eligible for both SSI and SSDI benefits if you meet certain qualifications. This is known as concurrent benefits. If you are a disability recipient who is currently getting a low monthly payment (which typically happens if you have made low wages or haven't worked in recent years), you may be eligible to get concurrent benefits.

To receive SSI on top of SSDI, the applicant's unearned income must be less than $721 per month. The income limits can be very complex, and that's why it's so important to retain a disability attorney with experience in the field. In addition to income limits, SSI has asset limits. If you have worked in a job that paid taxes into Social Security which qualified you for SSDI and your assets and income are low enough to get SSI, it's likely you will be able to receive concurrent benefits.

Bear in mind that to calculate your eligibility for SSI, your monthly disability payment is factored in. In some cases, that payment is high enough to disqualify you from getting concurrent benefits. If you are getting a disability payment less than $721 a month, however, you can get both benefits at the same time.

The application and evaluation process for getting benefits is the same whether you are applying for SSI, SSDI, or both. Your income and assets will be reviewing in the same manner and the category of your claim has no impact on the claim processing. The definition of disability remains the same for both programs.

There are a few benefits to getting concurrent payments. If you are receiving disability less than $721 a month, your benefit could be increased up to this amount. You also may be eligible for Medicare as an SSDI recipient, but you should know that taking advantage of this requires waiting two years after you became eligible for SSDI. Most SSI recipients are only eligible for Medicaid. Although Medicaid tends to cover, on the surface, more services than Medicare, more doctors are open to taking payments from Medicare, making it easier to find a health professional. As you can tell, the process can be complicated. Obtain an SSDI attorney sooner rather than later to get your questions answered.

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Some Same Sex Couples Can Now Get Widow or Widower’s Benefits

The Social Security Administration has announced that they will now begin processing some widow’s and widower’s claims by surviving members of same-sex marriages.  The program is still currently being worked on so there are no definite guidelines at this time.  In a statement, the Social Security Administration announced the following: "I am pleased to announce that, effective today, Social Security is processing some widow’s and widower’s claims by surviving members of same-sex marriages and paying benefits where they are due. In addition, we are able to pay some one-time lump sum death benefit claims to surviving same-sex spouses. As I stated shortly after the Supreme Court decision on Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act, our goal is to treat all Americans with dignity and respect.”

For more information, click here:  http://www.socialsecurity.gov/same-sexcouples.

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Brain Injury Awareness Month

The month of March signals raised awareness of brain injuries. According to the Centers for Disease Control, brain injuries have been on the rise in the past decade. If you have suffered from such an injury, you are likely looking for additional sources of financial support to help you adjust to your new life.

A traumatic brain injury refers to any incident where the brain suffers an acute injury. Unlike other medical conditions, which may have some level of predictability, brain injuries can be unique based on the patient. As a result, you might find certain symptoms or events that affect you in ways different from another patient with a similar injury. One of the hallmarks of TBIs is that they may start off mild, with symptoms that get worse the longer you suffer. 

You might find that the extent of your injuries makes it impossible to work. When this happens, it doesn't take long for bills to pile up and for your to feel the financial struggle. The Social Security Administration does recognize the influence that such an injury can have on your life, and that's why the agency offers support through disability payments. The two programs supported by the agency are Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income. To get SSDI benefits, you will need to have pain into Social Security. SSI benefits are for elderly or disabled people who have little to no resources. 

Qualifying for SSDI with a TBI requires a specific diagnosis. In order to get benefits, you will need to meet with one of four SSDI listings: 11.02 (Convulsive Epilepsy), 11.03 (Non-convulsive epilepsy), 11.04 (Central Nervous System Vascular Accident-Stroke), or 12.02 (Organic Mental Disorders). Common symptoms of these issues include seizures, difficulty in handling changes in the workplace, issues processing directions, or difficulty with walking, sitting, lifting, or pulling. 

You will need medical documentation to back up your claim, but it's also a wise idea to retain an SSDI attorney to help you. This often prevents delays and surprises by making the process easier for you. If you are suffering from a TBI, help may be available to you through SSDI. 

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Increase in Video Hearings Before Administrative Law Judges In SSDI or SSI Claims

There is an increase in the amount of video hearings Social Security claimants are attending.  Using video hearings has become essential to help decrease the backlog in SSDI and SSI claims.  Not only are the individual hearing offices using video conferencing capabilities more frequently, the Social Security Administration is also increasing its use of video conferencing through the National Hearing Centers, located in Albuquerque, Baltimore, Chicago, Falls Church and St. Louis.  If you or a loved one is going before a judge for your SSDI or SSI claim, it makes sense to speak with an experienced Social Security Disability attorney.  Attorneys can help you better understand the hearing process and prepare you for your hearing before the Administrative Law Judge.
 
For more information, click here: http://www.ssa.gov/performance/

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New Bill Proposed in the Senate to Raise SSI Asset Limits

Under a new bill proposed in the U.S. Senate, the amount of money that a Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipient can save without losing access to their benefits would rise from the current $2000.00 to $10,000.00.  The bill also proposes eliminating restrictions that disallow friends and family of SSI recipients from providing additional support to those receiving SSI benefits.   This would encourage SSI recipients to save additional money and for friends and families to assist SSI recipients with living expenses.

For additional information please click here:  http://www.disabilityscoop.com/2014/03/11/senators-ssi-asset-limits/19180/

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The Importance of Documentation

In previous posts, I have mentioned the importance of documentation in submitting a claim for SSD benefits. While documentation is important for SSD claims for physical disabilities, it is even more vital for claims based on mental disabilities like depression. For physical disabilities, most documentation needs to come from the notes of a treating physician, imaging studies, and labs. For SSD claims based on mental disability due to conditions such as depression, however, the medical record is only part of the documentation necessary. While results of psychological testing and the impression of a medical professional are important, information from non-medical sources are also critical to a successful claim. For example, information from the claimant himself, family members, friends, and coworkers can substantially supplement the record and verify the findings of the medical record. Equally important is to present this evidence from various sources over as long a period of time as possible. Such longitudinal evidence will better establish the severity and extent of your functional impairment. Much of this information needs to be properly and effectively presented in the initial application. Many of my clients have come to me after being rejected for an SSD claim despite actually meeting a medical listing for depression solely because they did not include all the appropriate evidence in their applications. As I mentioned before, including all the appropriate evidence from the beginning can mean the difference between receiving SSD benefits and dealing with a frustrating rejection from the SSA. If you are not sure what to include in your application, seek the assistance of a knowledgeable, experienced attorney in your area.

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Are your Social Security Disability benefits taxable?

The truth is there is no simple answer as to whether you must pay taxes on your Social Security Disability benefits.  Here are some tips for figuring out whether your Social Security Disability benefits will be subject to taxation.

http://www.redbluffdailynews.com/features/ci_25276955/are-your-social-security-benefits-taxable

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SSA Considers Changes to Cancer Disability

The Social Security Administration is considering making some changes that would affect individuals applying for Social Security Disability Benefits for cancer conditions. Some types of cancer make an individual eligible for SSDI benefits right away, although other forms of cancer will depend on the grade and stage. Typically, you'll be eligible for SSDI benefits in cases where your treatments and condition mean that there are no jobs you are capable of doing. In many cases, cancer that has spread or been determined "inoperable" could be eligible for benefits, but you should consult directly with an SSDI attorney about your medical records and diagnosis to learn more. 

Making a departure from a listing that was last updated in 2009, the changes would influence the Malignant Neoplastic Diseases Listings of Impairments. 

The following changes are what has been proposed thus far: 

  • Altering the terminology of the body system from "Malignant Neoplastic Diseases" to "Cancer". 
  • Changing the way that cancer is evaluated when treated alongside multimodal antineplastic therapy. Deferred adjudication may happen if the treating source intends to receive multimodal therapy but has not yet started the process of getting it. 
  • New procedures for evaluating some cancers. Cancers included are primary breast cancer (and secondary lymphadema), central nervous system cancers, recurrent prostate cancer, malignant melanoma, chronic leukemia, and primary peritoneal cancer
  • New procedures for evaluating cancers in which treatments include stem cell or bone marrow transplants. 
  • Altering the definition of several terms, including "persistent", "antineplastic therapy", "unresectable", and "progressive. 

If you have been affected by cancer and it has eliminated your potential to work any job, you need to consult with an SSDI attorney about applying for benefits. These benefits can be crucial for helping to support you while you are suffering from the impact of cancer. Contact an SSDI attorney today to learn about how you can receive supporting benefits for your cancer. 

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Getting SSDI For Fibromyalgia

A recent study in Arthritis Care and Research highlighted the experience of fibromyalgia patients applying for Social Security Disability Income. Although diagnostic procedures have increased in specificity, it has been a slow road for fibromyalgia patients to receive SSDI benefits. 

The study looked at 2,321 patients over a period of four years, finding that approximately 35 percent of those patients were currently receiving disability benefits. Those patients with rheumatoid arthritis with concomitant fibromyalgia, were, on the whole, more successful at obtaining benefits: nearly 56 percent of those patients were on disability at the time of the research study. Researchers determined that the strongest predictor of receiving disability benefits for fibromyalgia patients was their level of functionality. 

Some patients might apply for disability benefits and simply get frustrated with the red tape surrounding them after an initial denial. If your condition prevents you from working, you need to speak with a disability attorney to have your case evaluated. As more research comes forth about the impacts of fibromyalgia, you need to count on legal representation that knows the ropes. Don't give up on your claim if you have initially been denied. An experienced disability benefits lawyer will work with you to complete your appeals paperwork, answer your pertinent questions about the disability application process and receiving disability, and can even represent you at hearings. 

Entering into the world of applying for SSDI benefits can be overwhelming and confusing. Too many patients give up after they have gone through the application process, possibly losing out on important disability benefits that could make their life and their family's life much easier. If you are looking at a denied claim and wondering about your options, contact an SSDI attorney to discuss your individual case. You may be eligible for disability benefits and should consult with an attorney about the best way to get them. 

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How will drug and/or alcohol addiction affect my Social Security Disability case?

A common question I get asked by my clients is how alcohol or drug addiction can impact their application for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits. Alcohol or drug dependence is a major issue facing millions of Americans. For some, alcohol or drug addiction, itself, can be debilitating to the point of creating a disability. For others, alcohol or drugs can lead to other medical problems (such as liver disease) which, in turn, can cause disability. For still others, alcohol or drug dependence can be a part of a disabling mental illness such as depression or anxiety. In this post I will review how the Social Security Administration (SSA) approaches drug addiction when evaluating claims for SSD benefits. I will do this by separately addressing three different scenarios in which alcohol or drug addiction may play a role in creating a disability.

 

Can you receive Social Security Disability benefits solely based on your addiction to drugs and/or alcohol?

No. While, alcohol or drug addiction, itself, can certainly disable people to the point of preventing normal functioning and the ability to work, the SSA will not grant SSD benefits solely based on an addiction to drugs and/or alcohol. This policy is due to the Right To Work Act. Through this law, enacted in 1996, Congress eliminated alcoholism (and drug addiction) as a basis for obtaining Social Security Disability benefits. So does that mean that drug or alcohol addiction will prevent you from getting SSDI benefits? This is where things get a little more complicated.

 

If you are addicted to drugs and/or alcohol, can you still receive Social Security Disability benefits?

The answer to this question is that it depends. While the Right to Work Act prevents the SSA from granting SSDI benefits specifically for alcohol or drug dependence, it does not necessarily disqualify people with other disabilities from receiving SSD benefits just because they are also addicted to drugs or alcohol. In other words, the SSA is not supposed to penalize you for being addicted to drugs or alcohol.

 

 If the Social Security Administration determines that you are addicted to drugs and/or alcohol, they must determine whether the drug addiction or alcoholism significantly contributes to your disability. To determine this, SSA will first consider whether all of your other medical conditions qualify you as disabled per their guidelines. If SSA determines that you are, indeed, disabled based on your medical condition(s), the next step is to determine whether you would still be disabled if you stopped using drugs and/or alcohol. If SSA determines that you would not be disabled once you stopped using drugs or alcohol, then SSA will determine that you are not disabled and not eligible for SSD benefits. If SSA determines that you would still be disabled even if you stopped using drugs and/or alcohol, then they will award you Social Security Disability benefits. For example, lets suppose that you suffer from both depression and alcohol addiction. If you can demonstrate that you would be disabled from depression even if you overcame your alcohol dependence, the SSA would grant you SSDI benefits.

 

My use of alcohol and/or drugs caused a disabling medical condition. Can I receive Social Security Disability benefits for this condition?
If your disability was caused by alcohol and/or drugs, the SSA will first determine whether you are disabled per Social Security’s regulations using the same method as discussed above. That means if you would still be disabled if you stopped using drugs and/or alcohol then you will be considered disabled and would be awarded SSD benefits. For example, lets suppose that you developed alcoholic cirrhosis of the liver from an alcohol addiction and this condition has disabled you. When you apply for SSD benefits, SSA will first determine whether the cirrhosis is severe enough to classify you as disabled. If you are deemed disabled, SSA will then determine if the disability caused by the cirrhosis would persist if you were to stop drinking. If they determine that your cirrhosis is advanced to the point that the disability it causes cannot be reversed even if you stop drinking, you will be granted SSD benefits.

 

Take Home Message
While alcohol and drug dependence, in and of itself, does not qualify you for SSD benefits, it also does not preclude you from these benefits. To be eligible for SSDI benefits, you must demonstrate that your medical condition disables you independent of any concurrent drug or alcohol dependence. It is also important to note that while this is the process for determining whether a claimant is eligible for SSD benefits if he/she is addicted to drugs and/or alcohol, in reality many judges do not like to see that a claimant is addicted to drugs and/or alcohol in the time period they are applying for SSD benefits. If you do have medical records which state that you are addicted to drugs and/or alcohol, you should consult with an attorney experienced in Social Security Disability regarding your particular claim.

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Disability Advocates Group is a law firm dedicated to serving individuals who have become disabled and are seeking to obtain the benefits they need and deserve. At Disability Advocates Group, we specialize in representing disabled clients in their claims for Social Security Disability Benefits.

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