Don’t Let Your Drug Usage Ruin Your Claim for Social Security Disability
By Charles Ali Everage on May 7, 2015
When your health fails, you may become depressed. You can’t afford the lifestyle that working provided you. You’re unable to support your family. You’re in physical and psychological pain. You feel like your whole life has been turned upside down.
Unfortunately, some people attempt to self-medicate with alcohol, illegal drugs or prescription drugs. These drugs which are abused, including marijuana and a variety of prescription medications. Many of these drugs can be habit-forming and generally have a negative effect on your health. In addition to the obvious health consequences, improper drug usage can be grounds for denial of Social Security Disability benefits.
If you’re struggling with mental health disorders, using alcohol, marijuana or other illegal drugs, or abusing prescription medications, can worsen your psychological symptoms. Furthermore, this drug abuse can obscure and make unclear whether your symptoms are related to a mental health disorder such as bi-polar or depression or related to your drug abuse.
Even worse, drug abuse can have a damaging effect on your claim’s medical evidence. Medical records will reflect improper drug usage. Pain specialists are trained to test clients as to the drugs that are in their system and the amounts of drugs in their system. Emergency room treatment often consists of a drug screen.
If you file for disability and have a past history of substance abuse or medical records reflecting the use of drugs or alcohol, you can still receive disability, but you need to be prepared to address this issue at your hearing before an Administrative Law Judge. Be honest: you don’t help your claim by stating you haven’t used in three years when there is a record showing drug usage last December. Credibility is one of the top reasons why a claim for disability is denied at hearing. Show that you have made an effort to stop and seek rehabilitation with a professional.
In addition to obtaining sobriety, drug treatment programs can provide a track record of instances in which you have consistently passed drug tests. Preparing for the issues of past drug use and alcohol abuse can be challenging. Don’t be surprised to find out what exists in your medical records – consult with a disability attorney and be prepared.
If you need help applying for disability benefits or appealing a denial, contact Hunter & Everage today.