Working Through Emotional Trauma
About Me
Working Through Emotional Trauma

I still remember my accident like it was yesterday. One minute I was driving my daughter to school and the next I was waking up in a hospital bed. It was frustrating to deal with the emotional trauma of forgetting an entire week of my life, in addition to stressing about my small child. Fortunately, we were both able to recover, but it wasn't easy walking dealing with the medical bills that accompanied the accident. I found myself struggling with things as simple as answering the phone, because I was nervous about dealing with another insurance adjuster. Fortunately, by working with a lawyer, I was able to make sense of my situation. I know that you can overcome difficult challenges too, which is why I shared my story on this website.

Working Through Emotional Trauma

Can You Receive Federal Disability Benefits For A Disability Resulting From Substance Abuse?

Debra Hawkins

When it comes to the determination of Social Security Disability (SSD) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits for those who suffer from both mental illness and a substance abuse issue, it may often seem like a chicken and egg question: which came first, the mental illness or the substance abuse? While disability benefits for those whose substance abuse has led to long-term mental or physical health issues can be a controversial prospect, a number of studies have shown strong connections between the use of alcohol and illicit drugs as a way of self-medicating bipolar disorder, anxiety, schizophrenia, and other mental health conditions that would otherwise qualify someone for receipt of federal disability benefits. Read on to learn more about whether you can receive disability benefits on the basis of physical or mental health consequences of substance abuse.

What disabilities can make you eligible for federal benefits?

Both SSD and SSI are available to those who suffer from physical or mental disabilities that prevent them from holding down gainful employment. Gainful employment is not defined as full-time or high-paying employment -- rather than being a measure of your ability to work in the position for which you were trained or educated, SSD or SSI will be awarded only if your disability prevents you from holding down any job at all. 

The list of conditions for which one can receive SSD or SSI benefits is a lengthy one. However, each disability application is evaluated on an individual basis -- having a condition on the "approved" list won't automatically qualify you for benefits, and some may receive benefits for conditions that aren't yet on the list. Consulting a Social Security attorney before filing your application can help you focus your responses in a way that will improve the odds that your application will be approved upon filing. 

Can you receive federal disability benefits for health issues caused by substance abuse? 

While ongoing substance abuse isn't itself a condition that justifies the receipt of disability benefits, you may still qualify for SSD or SSI benefits if you've suffered permanent or irreversible health consequences as a result of your substance abuse. For example, a chronic alcoholic who has developed cirrhosis of the liver from years of drinking may qualify for SSD or SSI, while an alcoholic who is still in good health but can't find a job will not qualify for benefits. Someone suffering from schizophrenia or bipolar disorder that was triggered by illicit drugs like PCP or methamphetamine may also qualify for disability benefits, but will need to establish that this mental condition is irreversible, difficult to treat with psychiatric medication, and prevents the applicant from holding down a job. Contact an attorney like one from Goebel Law Office for more information.