Is Addiction a Disability?

Addiction and Disability

Drug Addiction as a Disability

There are very few people who would disagree that having a drug addiction takes a toll on a person’s life. It impacts our relationships at home, both our physical and mental health, and addiction can make finding and maintaining a job feel like an impossible task.

By this understanding, it seems as though drug addiction meets the concept of disability through the Social Security Administration (SSA). Does that mean a person can claim drug or alcohol addiction as a disability? And what kind of effect does it have on Social Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)?

Addiction and Disability

Individuals meet the basic qualifications for SSDI if the following conditions are met: they earn less than $1,130 a month through employment, they have a disabling condition that is expected to last at least 12 months, and that the condition has a severe impact on the ability to work.

Even though drug and alcohol addiction may meet these requirements, it doesn’t necessarily qualify an individual for Social Security benefits. Even though the SSA doesn’t recognize addiction as a disability, it does concede to the fact that addiction makes maintaining employment difficult. If there are complications associated with the addiction, those may qualify as a disability per SSA guidelines.

Substance Abuse Related Disorders

Because addiction is so hard on the body and brain, many addicts are plagued with other ailments either caused by or related to their addiction. This includes things like Hepatitis C from sharing needles, liver damage caused by alcoholism, or anxiety disorders the developed after bath salt usage. Many of these conditions are recognized as disabilities by the SSA.

The SSA has a list of common substance abuse disorders in which it recognizes as disabilities, as long as it meets the three basic eligibility points mentioned above. It should also be noted that if the condition goes away when drug use ceases, it does not qualify as a disability.

  • Organic mental disorder
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Liver damage
  • Gastritis
  • Pancreatitis
  • Seizures
  • Peripheral neuropathies
  • Personality disorder

Addiction Will Not Be Held Against You

The SSA understands that addiction is a disease, and will not hold addiction against you in regards to your disability claim. If your claim is approved and SSDI is awarded, but the SSA believes you may be abusing drugs or alcohol, it may mandate you go to treatment or require you to have a representative payee to handle your finances.