Social Security Disability or SSI and Drug and Alcohol Addiction

Claimants applying for Social Security Disability or SSI need to be aware of the Social Security Administration’s recent announcement regarding claims involving drug or alcohol addiction (DAA). Recently published SSR 13-2p:

explains our policies for how we consider whether “drug addiction and alcoholism” (DAA) is a contributing factor material to our determination of disability in disability claims and continuing disability reviews.

The Social Security Act provides that a claimant 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.  The key factor is whether we would still find a claimant disabled if he stopped using drugs or alcohol.

  • DAA is not material if the claimant would still meet the definition of disability if he were not using drugs or alcohol. If DAA is not material, we find that the claimant is disabled.
  • DAA is material if the claimant would not meet the definition of disability if he were not using drugs or alcohol. If DAA is material, the claimant is not disabled.
  • They do not make a determination regarding materiality if a claimant has a history of DAA that is not relevant to the period under consideration.

If the claimant has other impairment(s) that results in disability and DAA is not causing or does not affect the other impairment(s) to the point where the other impairment(s) could be found non-disabling in the absence of DAA, DAA is not material to the determination of disability. The claim should be allowed. There are three basic scenarios:

  1. The claimant has a disabling impairment independent of DAA; for example, a degenerative neurological disease.
  2. The claimant acquired a separate disabling impairment(s) while using a substance(s). One example is the claimant has quadriplegia because of an accident while driving under the influence of alcohol.
  3. The claimant’s DAA medically caused the other disabling impairment(s) but the other impairment(s) is irreversible or could not improve to the point of non-disability in the absence of DAA.

If you need more information about a Social Security Disability/SSI, personal injury, EEOICPA, long or short-term disability, VA disability, Railroad Retirement Board disability, or a workers compensation matter, please contact the Law Offices of Tony Farmer and John Dreiser for a free case evaluation. We can be reached at (865) 584-1211 or (800) 806-4611 or through our website. Our office handles claims throughout East Tennessee, including Knoxville, Chattanooga, Kingsport, Bristol, Johnson City, Morristown, Maryville, Rogersville, Dandridge, Tazewell, New Tazewell, Jefferson City, Strawberry Plains, Sevierville, Gatlinburg, Loudon, Kingston, Halls, Maynardville, Crossville, Cookeville, Jamestown, Sweetwater, Lenoir City, Athens, Oak Ridge, Clinton, LaFollette, Lake City, Jacksboro, Bean Station, Cosby, Newport, White Pine, Mosheim, Wartburg, Sunbright, Pigeon Forge, and Deer Lodge.




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