One of the surest ways to blow up a Social Security disability claim is by abusing alcohol or taking illegal drugs. First, it is important to know that Social Security does not consider alcoholism and addiction to illegal substances on their own as disabilities.

But even when a person is applying for disability due to other medical impairments, a history of drug or alcohol abuse can potentially derail a disability benefits claim. If drinking or drug use is seen to cause, or worsen, an applicant’s medical condition, they won’t be granted disability benefits. For example, let’s say an applicant is applying for disability due to a liver condition. Alcohol is toxic to the liver and if the applicant consumes wine, beer, or liquor this may lead Social Security to believe that this is impeding improvement in that person’s liver condition. They may deny benefits for that reason.

If an individual’s alcoholism or drug addiction is seen as irrelevant to their disabling medical condition, they may be granted disability benefits, but it is going to be an uphill battle. Our best advice is whether you are applying for Social Security disability or not—don’t use illegal drugs, and don’t abuse alcohol.



Sean D. Cuddigan
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SSA and VA Disability Attorney in Omaha, Nebraska