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Addiction and Social Security Disability Benefits

On March 22, the Social Security Administration (SSA) issued an explanation of its approach to issues of drug and alcohol addiction when determining Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits.

The ruling, SSR 13-12P describes how the agency evaluates disability claims when alcohol or drug addiction are factors. Since 1996, the SSA has said that a person is not entitled to benefits if the drug or alcohol addiction (known as DDA) enters into the equation. The recent ruling tries to explain exactly how the agency should apply that approach.

Essentially, the ruling says that if a person would be considered disabled, even if he or she was not addicted to drugs or alcohol, then that applicant could be eligible for SSD benefits. For example, if a construction worker suffered a back injury and could no longer work, and was trying to deal with his pain and depression with drugs or alcohol, he could be considered disabled - because he was disabled before he became addicted. Moreover, the disability was a cause of his addiction.

However, the addiction does not have to begin after the disability developed, according to SSA rules. Rather, the critical piece is whether the person would be considered disabled without the addiction. This can be a complex analysis that draws upon the evaluations of medical doctors, addiction specialists, mental health experts, rehab specialists and others.

If you are disabled and are experiencing addiction problems, it is critical to have assistance when applying for SSD. Do what so many others have done: Call Binder & Binder®, America's most successful disability advocates. They can help you obtain the benefits you so urgently need.

Source: Sacramento Bee, "Changing Social Security Disability Rules with Regard to Addiction," Mar. 18, 2013.

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