Case Law And Scientific Evidence Of Mental Health Conditions Correlated With Substance Abuse Disorders
Imagine a veteran with service-connected diabetes whose diabetes led to the amputation of his foot. It would seem absurd for the VA to deny his claim. However, many veterans with service-connected mental health issues are routinely denied service-connection to disabilities secondary to substance abuse. Not only has substance abuse been clinically and scientifically seen as a symptom of mental illness for many years, but when the VA rejects these claims, they are breaking their own rules.
Studies show, of VA patients with mental illness, around 21 to 35% also have co-occurring substance abuse disorders. While the rate of substance abuse varies from diagnosis to diagnosis , there is an increase in substance abuse with most mental illnesses.
In 2001, the Federal Circuit heard the case of Allen v. Principi, where a veteran with PTSD was fighting for an increased rating for his PTSD, due to the effects of his substance abuse socially and occupationally. The VA responded that substance abuse could NOT be service-connected, either as a primary disability or as secondary to mental illness. However, the court found that the law:
There are many disabilities that can be caused by substance abuse, and there can be damage to many parts of the body.
Substance Addiction And Disability In Florida
Many people suffer from an addiction of some sortexercise, caffeine, food etc. Too much of something is rarely healthy for anyone.
While the majority of drug addictions develop from social experimentation, many people can develop an addiction to substances, such as painkillers that were prescribed by a licensed physician to treat their pain.
According to drugfree.org, only 6 short years ago 23.5 million Americans suffered from a drug or alcohol addiction.
The aftermath and long term effects of any substance addiction can be crippling and financially and emotionally draining.
Does Addiction Qualify For Disability Benefits In Canada
Addiction is a serious condition that can radically disrupt your life and impact the people around you. There are several stimuli that are known to cause addiction, ranging from illegal or prescription substance use to alcohol abuse. Continual experimentation with such stimuli can become compulsive to a dangerous degree.
Left unchecked, addiction can overtake your life. You may find it increasingly difficult to maintain relationships with people you once called friends or family. You may also find your day-to-day life difficult to manage. If your addiction is left to worsen, suicidal tendencies can become a real concern.
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Qualifying For Disability For A Substance Abuse Disorder
If you or someone you care about is struggling with a substance addiction disorder, you may be wondering if its possible to qualify for disability benefits. The answer is yes, but specific criteria must be met for an individual to be eligible.
Substance addiction disorders can profoundly affect an individuals ability to function in everyday life. To qualify for disability, the condition must severely limit at least one significant life activity or cause an inability to perform basic work activities.
In addition, individuals must have a documented history of their condition and how it has impacted their ability to function. This can include medical records, treatment plans, and other documentation supporting the diagnosis.
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What Does That Mean For My Case
Though addiction can affect the entire body, it is generally treated as a mental illness in disability law. Compared to a physical condition, mental illnesses tend to be more difficult to provide medical evidence for. Any claimant living with a drug or alcohol addiction could be on the hook to prove whether or not their addiction is material to their disability claim. Working with an attorney who understands the relationship between substance abuse and disability can help make the application process easier and more straight-forward.
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Your Drug Addiction Disability Case
At this time, the SSA does not allow disability benefits for addiction. In addition, if the SSA finds that your addiction is material to your disability claim, your addiction will cause your case to be denied. Only if your addiction is deemed immaterial to the condition for which you are seeking disability benefits, will the addiction not prevent you from obtaining disability benefits.
If you have been an addict, but are now in recovery, it is recommended that you work closely with medical professionals and a qualified Social Security Disability attorney or advocate to collect and present the appropriate documentation to support your disability claim in front of the Disability Determination Services .
Medication To Treat Substance Use Disorders
When medication is used to treat substance use disorders, a person is legally prescribed medication such as Suboxone, Methadone, or Vivitrol etc. to treat their addiction.
Scenario: Tom is receiving medication to treat his substance use disorder. He appeared in family court and requested that he begin to see his children on the weekend. The judge responded to his request saying, Youll see your children when you get off Suboxone.
Is Tom protected under Title II of the ADA? Yes, he has a history of addiction. Those who receive medication to treat opioid use disorders usually have a history of addiction to controlled substances. Family court is regarding the use of Suboxone as though it is an illegal drug. Suboxone is a legally prescribed medication to help Tom function just like insulin is prescribed for the health and function of a person with diabetes. Toms use of Suboxone cannot, by itself, justify a refusal to let Tom see his children on the weekend.
What if the court found out that he recently used cocaine while receiving medication to treat opioid use disorder? Would he have protections under the ADA? No, Title II does not protect individuals who are currently engaging in the illegal use of drugs.
Scenario: Alex had a double hip replacement and needs to go into a private rehabilitation facility for physical therapy for a month. When the rehabilitation facility finds out he is being prescribed methadone, they refuse to accept him as a patient.
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What Is A Substance Use Disorder
Based on our new understanding of addiction, physicians now treat it as a disease. According to the DSM-5, a substance use disorder diagnosis involves:
- Taking a substance in larger amounts or for a longer period than intended
- Unsuccessful attempts to cut back or stop using the substance
- Significant time dedicated to getting, using, and recovering from the substance
- Cravings and urges to use
- Failing to meet your major work, school, and home obligations
- Continuing to use even when your substance use harms your relationships
- Giving up your hobbies, work activities, and social engagements because of substance use
- Using in situations that put you at risk of physical harm
- Using even when you realize it is harming your mental and physical health
- Increased tolerance to the substances effects
- Withdrawal symptoms
If you have two or three of these criteria, you have a mild substance use disorder. Six or more symptoms suggest that your substance use disorder is severe.
Unfortunately, its all too easy to develop a substance use disorder. Many people take opioid or narcotic medications while recovering from surgeries or dealing with chronic pain. Our bodies can quickly become dependent on these medications, leading to addiction.
Qualifying For Ssdi And Substance Abuse Disorders
Here are a few ways you may qualify for Boston SSDI because of a substance abuse disorder.
- Mental Disorder. To receive benefits for a mental disorder, damage must have been caused to your brain by injury or disease. Alcohol abuse can sometimes lead to brain injury. If your mental disorder was caused by alcohol abuse, you may qualify.
- Depression. Substance abuse frequently causes depression. In some cases, depression may limit your ability to work and could qualify you to receive SSDI in Boston.
- Anxiety. Substance abuse can also lead to anxiety. This can make it impossible to work. If you suffer from anxiety, you may qualify to receive benefits.
- Gastritis. Gastritis is the inflammation of your stomach lining. This condition is frequently caused by alcohol abuse. If your digestive system has been compromised after extended substance abuse, you may qualify for disability benefits.
- Liver Damage. Alcohol has a direct impact on your liver. If your liver is permanently damaged because of your alcohol abuse, you may qualify for SSDI.
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How Does Social Security Evaluate Disability When Alcoholism Is A Contributing Factor
Alcoholism in itself is not enough to get your social security disability benefits. If this is the basis of your entire case, the SSA will reject your disability claim. However, if alcoholism contributes to other functional limitations that meets Social Securitys definition of disability, you may be eligible for benefits.
Your alcohol-related impairment must be severe enough to prevent you from doing substantial work to receive benefits. Additionally, your alcohol-related impairment must be supported by medical evidence from a qualified medical source. This evidence can include:
- A detailed description of your symptoms
- Information about how your symptoms affect your ability to function
- Documentation of prior treatment for alcoholism, including hospitalizations
Suppose you have an alcohol-related impairment that isnt expected to improve if you quit drinking and meets or equals a listing in the Social Security Administrations determination of disability. In that case, you will automatically qualify for benefits.
Here is a list of such disorders:
- Anxiety Disorders and other mental disorders
- Depressive Syndrome
- Cirrhosis and other liver diseases
- Peripheral Neuropathies and others.
Suppose your impairment doesnt meet or equal a listing. In that case, Social Security will consider your age, education, past work experience, and any transferable skills you have when determining if you can adjust to other work.
Va Disability Eligibility And Requirements
A veteran may be considered eligible for drug addiction disability benefits or alcohol disability benefits if they have a condition that affects their mental or physical health. They must also meet both of the following requirements:
- They have served on active duty, active duty for training, or inactive duty training.
- They have been given a disability rating for their service-connected condition.
At least one of the following must also be true:
- They are able to connect their illness or injury to their time serving in the military.
- They had an illness or injury before serving in the military that was made worse due to active duty.
- They have a disability that was found to be related to their time in service but didnt appear until service was ceased.
Qualified dependents of veterans may also be eligible for disability benefits.7
Are you looking for an inpatient or outpatient rehabilitation center that is designed for veterans? Contact American Addiction Centers today at and discover whether your benefits will cover the full or partial extent of addiction treatment.
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What About Disability Applicants Living In Legalization States
Now, you might wonder whether legal marijuana use hurts your chances for getting disability benefits in one of these states:
- Washington, D.C.
The fact is, you do not have to pass a drug test in order to qualify for Social Security disability. Whether in states listed above or where medical marijuana is legal, it likely wont impact your claim. Worried that people addicted to marijuana in these states can now draw SSD benefits because theyre too lazy to work? A recent study found the SSA receives about 2.4 more disability claims for every 10,000 eligible adults in those states. About 576 more people applied for disability benefits the year after Colorado legalized recreational use than in the previous year. However, the number of average approved claims did not go up in those states once recreational use became legal.
Outpatient Vs Inpatient Mental Health
Dual diagnosis is a large part of some peoples recovery journey. Mental health issues and addiction are often very deeply connected, and treating the underlying cause of both conditions at the same time, in integrated treatment programs is the best way to break the cycle of using substances to control symptoms of mental illness, ultimately becoming even more unwell.
Some of the most common co-occurring disorders include:
- Suicidal tendencies
Some people have a genetic predisposition that leads to addiction and mental illness, and others develop a chemical imbalance in the brain that causes these issues to occur or worsen over time.
Drugs and alcohol can also interfere with prescription medications you are already taking for your mental health, and using substances to mask symptoms of conditions like social anxiety or major depression can cause those issues to worsen. You will lose confidence in your own abilities to handle stress and difficult situations without substance abuse, and you will not gain the coping tools you need to get through stressful times. Drowning your sorrows in alcohol may cause depressive issues to become worse, and using substances to run away from disturbing intrusive thoughts and debilitating trauma will reinforce the avoidance, pushing the issues deeper and strengthening them instead of healing.
There are pros and cons to both inpatient and outpatient mental health and addiction rehab centers. With inpatient rehab you will:
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Social Security Disability: General Requirements
Anyone over the age of 18 can apply for Social Security disability benefits if they have a medically determinable physical or mental impairment that also meets any of the following:
- The condition results in their inability to engage in substantial gainful activity
- The medical condition either has lasted or can be expected to last for at least 12 consecutive months or is considered to be terminal
Drug Addiction And The Ada
The ADA also addresses drug addiction but treats it differently than alcoholism. For example, the ADA recognizes alcohol addiction as a disability and provides protections, whether the addiction is current or in the past. However, the ADA only offers protections for drug addiction if a person is in recovery and not currently abusing drugs.
This means that an employer cannot fire or refuse to hire someone because they disclose a past addiction. However, a person who is currently abusing drugs like cocaine would not be protected under the ADA.
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Disability For Opioid Addiction
Social Securitys rules for disability due to addiction are very straightforward, and the short answer is usually no. But its not that simple.
Social Security doesnt consider a drug addiction of any kind a disabling condition, even if it prevents someone from working. Only until it produces irreversible, permanent conditions does the Social Security Administration consider someone eligible for disability. All cases are reviewed in the same manner, no matter how the disability occurred.
SSA does not consider an addiction to properly prescribed prescription drugs to need a drug addiction or alcoholism determination However, SSA can take into consideration the disabling effects and limitations caused by a prescription that is used to treat a condition that a claimant is applying for. The side effects of a medication should be included when describing the seriousness of a patients condition.
In Social Security Ruling 13-2p, the SSA clarifies this point by stating that a DAA determination is not to be applied in cases of addiction to, or use of, prescription medications taken as prescribed, including methadone and narcotic pain medications. This also means that any side effects of the prescription will be taken into account when considering if a claimants symptoms are severe enough to be disabling.
Va Disability & Addiction
For the Department of Veterans Affairs to determine that alcohol or drug addiction is a disability, it must be linked to a service-related issue.12 In other words, it must be attributed to an illness or injury that occurred while serving in the military, worsened after serving, or appeared after ending service.12 Benefits of VA disability may include health care or monthly financial support.12,13
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Advice For Disability Applicants In Recovery For Drug Addiction Or Alcoholism
A Disability Determination Services doctor could determine your health issues result from substance abuse or alcoholism. An example of this might be cirrhosis of the liver, which is a medical condition commonly associated with alcoholism. For disability applicants in recovery, this can make getting approved for SSD benefits more difficult. Showing evidence of your sobriety in any medical records you submit along with your claim is absolutely crucial. This way, youll show you are no longer dependent on drugs or alcohol, despite still suffering some disabling symptoms.
That said, the SSA wont automatically deny your claim because you have a history of alcoholism or substance abuse. The key thing to know is that neither alcoholism nor drug addiction count as qualifying disabilities. And there are some conditions that result from alcohol or substance use that the SSA wont hold against you. These include things like fetal alcohol syndrome, fetal cocaine exposure and addiction to prescription medications taken exactly as your doctor prescribes.
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Characteristics Of Da& a Beneficiaries Who Continued To Receive Payments In December 1998
Almost 40 percent of the DA& A beneficiaries who were still eligible for payments in December 1998 had been on the rolls from 3 to 5 years . Similarly, 34 percent had been on the rolls between 6 and 8 years. By comparison, in June 1996, 48 percent of DA& A beneficiaries had been on the rolls for 3 to 5 years, and only 12 percent had been on the rolls for 6 to 8 years.7
|a. Less than 0.05 percent.|
Other characteristics did not change a great deal between DA& A beneficiaries receiving benefits in June 1996 and those who were still receiving benefits in December 1998. For example, the vast majority of them lived in their own household . Also, the majority continued to receive no income other than SSI. Approximately 69.7 percent of beneficiaries received no other income in December 1998 compared with 69.5 percent in June 1996.
Finally, the gender composition changed slightly during the follow-up study period. In June 1996, 67.1 percent of DA& A beneficiaries receiving SSI payments were male and 32.9 percent were female. Of the beneficiaries who were still eligible in December 1998, 64 percent were male and 36 percent were female.
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