Indianapolis Lawyer Discusses Alcoholism and Social Security Disability

Just the other day, I had a hearing before the Social Security Administration on a client’s application for disability benefits.  As I always do, I asked my client to meet with me an hour before the hearing.  I do this to make sure the client knows what is about to happen and feels comfortable.  I also like to talk with the client about my review of their medical file.  There is always some fact or question that needs to be checked.  Well, in looking through this client’s file I found that the client had issues with alcohol.  There were a couple of admissions to the hospital and some physical findings that suggested a heavy usage of alcohol.  So, as you might imagine, I wanted to ask the client about these things.  Of course the client had explanations for all my questions, but it was one of the things that she said that made me wonder what Americans know about Social Security Disability and how it is affected by the use of alcohol.  The client said to me, “What is the big deal about drinking, I know a guy and he is on disability because he is an alcoholic”.

 Well, let’s get this straight right now, although many years ago disability could be granted based on alcoholism, that has been changed. A person will be denied disability benefits if the sole basis for the application is because the person is an alcoholic.  In fact, in most instances where the physical problems of the claimant are caused by alcohol abuse, i.e. liver damage, kidney failure, bleeding ulcers, esophageal stricture etc., if the person is continuing to drink and not seeking help, that person will be denied benefits.  The basis of this position is that the old rules seemed to encourage alcoholism and discourage seeking treatment.

Now, if you have physical problems that were caused by alcohol abuse but you are no longer drinking and are in treatment, you may be granted benefits.  Be aware, however, that the Administration will look carefully at the file to insure that the drinking that caused the problems is no longer taking place.  If you are granted benefits, and start drinking again, you will eventually lose your claim to benefits, It may not be right away, but it will happen.  If you are struggling with alcohol abuse, we encourage you to seek help.  Only you can make the choice to live without alcohol, but once you have made that decision, there are many, many programs to help you on your journey.

NOTICE: No face-to-face meeting needed. You can remain safely in your home from case signup to settlement.