Social Security has removed Listing 12.09 for substance addiction disorders. As a result, you cannot be approved for either SSD or SSDI solely from a substance addiction. However, other SSA listings take into account physical and mental effects of substance abuse, such as dementia, peripheral neuropathy, or cirrhosis from chronic alcohol abuse, so Listing 12.09 became redundant.
Prior to January 17, 2017, individuals who experienced substance addiction disorders could file for disability if their addiction was severe and they met the requirements. However, under certain conditions, you may be able to file for disability under other mental illness listings, such as anxiety.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), an agency under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services agency, monitors public mental health and works to reduce the impact of mental illness and substitute in the US.
SAMHSA’s most recent survey found that around 18.9% of Americans over the age of 18 have experienced some form of mental illness, and 8.5% of these adults also experienced substance abuse along with a mental disorder. This is called a “co-occurring disorder,” in which substance abuse is coupled with a mental disorder.
Sections 223(d)(2)(C) and 1614(a)(3)(J) of the Social Security Act state that an applicant would not be considered disabled if drug addiction and/or alcoholism would be a contributing factor material to the Commissioner’s determination that the individual is disabled.
These changes became effective January 17, 2017, after re-evaluations based on the DSM-5. The determining factor of disability is whether the individual would still be disabled if he or she were to discontinue the abuse of the substance or substances they are currently addicted to.
The Disability Determination Services (DDS) can now deny an application if they determine that an individual’s disability is primarily due to a substance abuse problem. The important questions would be if the person still have symptoms of a disability if they were to stop using. If the answer is yes, then the substance abuse is not “material” to the disability.
The Social Security Administration’s Listings of Impairments is their catalog of disabilities and requirements for all the disabling conditions they recognize for awarding disability. If you can adequately show the SSA that the issue you’re suffering from meets one of these listings, you will automatically qualify for benefits.
What to Do If You Can’t Meet the Listing
Those unable to show that they meet the eligibility requirements described in the SSA’s listings may still be able to show that their substance addiction qualifies them for disability benefits using the SSA’s alternative method. What is this method? It’s called the Five Step Sequential Evaluation Process, and if you use it, your goal will be to show the SSA that the issue you suffer from is equivalent to something they have defined and listed even though it is currently not included in their guide.
Doing this isn’t easy or straightforward, but a knowledgeable disability lawyer can show you how to prove to the SSA that your disability has kept you from being able to work for 12 months or longer and thus qualifies you to get the benefits you need and deserve.
Work With A Disability Attorney
Whatever type of disability you have, it pays to understand how the SSA works and what evidence truly helps your case. Because of this, your chances of success can increase if you work with an experienced professional who can answer your Social Security questions and guide you through the process.
Mark Whitehead & Associates has more than 27 years of helping people just like you get approved for Social Security benefits when they need it. We can help from the first application through representation in appeals and all the way to an administrative hearing. We work with clients nationwide and will be happy to talk with you about your case. Call us today for a free evaluation at 800-562-9830 (or 713-288-888 in Houston, TX.) No matter where you are in the US, we’ll be glad to talk to you about your case and how we can help.
Learn even more about the claims process by reading our Social Security Disability eBook for free!