Since 1996, Social Security has not paid disability benefits to individuals who would not be found disabled if they stopped using drugs or alcohol. At the NOSSCR conference held in Washington, DC. Omaha attorney Tim Cuddigan and attorney Scott Smith of Akron,Ohio spoke to attendees about a new ruling on the Evaluation of Claims that involve Drug Abuse and Alcoholism that became effective on March 22, 2013. This ruling mostly consolidates existing Social Secuirty agency policy. New in the ruling is a requirement that Judges evaluate claimant's periods of abstinence from substances and the change in mental status during these periods. These cases remain diffcult to win and periods of abstinence from substance abuse often are the most important key to success.Unfortunately many individuals who live with severe mental disorders such as bipolar disorder,schizophrenia and anxiety have co-existing substance dependence disorders. Treatment for underlying mental health problems, if any, is essential to determining whether the drug abuse and alcoholism issues are material to the finding of disability. Social Security in this new ruling reiterates long standing policy requiring Judges to first determine whether an individual whose claim has these issues present is disabled and then evaluate a second time and determine whether they would still be disabled if the disabling effects of drug abuse and alcoholism were absent.
Bottom line is that these cases are difficult to win. The most important ingredient is the sobriety of the claimant. A knowledgeable Omaha Disabilty Benefits Lawyer can help. Learn more in our free brochure, Give Yourself the Best Chance of Winning your Disability Case. For a free evaluation contact Cuddigan Law at (402) 933 -5400.