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Alcoholism and drug addiction are problems for many people. These addictions can result in mental or physical disability, but it can be difficult to win benefits unless you quit drinking or using drugs. To apply for Social Security benefits, go to Social Security’s website and apply online.

Over the years, SSA’s laws regarding alcohol and drugs have changed. In 1996, the SSA changed the law about on drug addiction and alcoholism in Social Security cases. Prior to that time, you could get benefits if alcoholism or drug addiction kept you from working.

Today, it is not possible to receive SSD and SSI benefits if drug addiction or alcoholism is a “material factor” in your case. The SSA considers addiction “material” to your case if it is the main reason you are unable to work. You cannot receive SSD benefits if your physical or mental conditions are due to drug use or alcoholism. However, you can be paid benefits if the damage caused by drugs or alcohol is severe. For example, if you have liver failure that is not reversible, even if you quit drinking, then you can win benefits.

ALCOHOLISMdisability benefits

If you are an alcoholic and you file a claim for SSD benefits because you have cancer, then the SSA should find your alcoholism is not material to your case. It is not material to your case, because you are not able to work due to cancer, whether you drink or not. If alcoholism has nothing to do with your condition, then it should not prevent the SSA from giving you benefits.

The best thing you can do for yourself, if you have alcoholism, is to stop drinking. Not only is this a wise choice for your health, but it will allow the SSA to focus on other medical conditions. Additionally, you should seek the help of Cannon Disability Law in your case, because having an attorney with experience can make all the difference in winning the claim.


The use of drugs is not necessarily drug addiction. Likewise, having an occasional drink does not equal alcoholism. When the SSA determines whether or not drugs or alcohol is material to your case, they look at a pattern of dysfunctional behavior.

For example, if you have used illegal drugs for 10 years and cannot quit, even after rehabilitation, then chances are good the SSA will find drugs are material to your case. Also, the SSA will examine whether your drug use disrupts your relationships, family life, and friendships. Additionally, they will look to see if you have any physical conditions from long term substance abuse.


So often, alcoholism and the abuse of drugs occurs along with mental condition, like anxiety or depression. People will often state that they use alcohol or drugs as medication for their mental symptoms. Obviously, this is not a good idea. Because there are medications that your doctor can use to treat your mental symptoms. Medications from the doctor are actually made to help you deal with your mental symptoms, instead of mask them.

It is better to seek treatment from a doctor, than it is to use illegal drugs. Even alcohol is only a temporary solution for mental symptoms. Proper medical treatment gives you a much better chance of  recovering from mental symptoms. It also gives you evidence for your SSD case. In order to win SSD benefits, you must prove your mental illness falls under one of SSA’s rules.

Without medical evidence, it will be impossible to prove you severe mental health symptoms. You must have a  doctor, counselor or psychologist who can confirm your mental illness. They must also state that your symptoms prevent you from working. If you don’t have money, then you will need to look for free mental health services.

Additionally, the SSA can send you to see one of their doctors who can examine you for mental health conditions. These doctors cannot treat your condition, but they can give evidence to the SSA that you have severe symptoms. Find out more information about the SSA’s mental health exam.


You do not need to try to win benefits by yourself. We can help file your SSD application. Also, we can help you appeal every SSA denial. For example, our attorneys and staff can:

If you file your application for benefits online at Social Security’s website, then you have 6 months to complete the application. Try not to take that long to finish it. Once you submit your application online, the SSA sends you an application summary in the mail. You must sign the summary and mail it back. If you need help to file your application, then we will help you.


The attorneys at our law firm have won over $100 million dollars in SSD benefits. We have the experience you need in court to win your case. We represent clients in Utah, Nevada, Idaho, Colorado, and California.

Learn more about Utah SSD benefits. Also, you can learn more about Nevada SSD benefits. Idaho SSD benefits and California SSD benefits are also on this website. There are different rules for how drugs and alcohol effect your case. And, those rules depend on where you live.

It is important to have an attorney who knows those rules. If you do not understand the law in your circuit, then you may not know how to win your SSD case.  For example, the 10th Circuit and the 9th Circuit have rules that are opposite of one another. You can read more about this in our article on Substance Abuse and SSD benefits.

Find out more about our lawyers and staff. Dianna Cannon has been helping clients win Social Security benefits for over 30 years. Brett Bunkall has won hundreds of cases in Utah, Nevada, Idaho, and California. Andria Summers has worked at our law firm for over 21 years. She has also helped thousands of our clients win SSD and SSI benefits. Contact us today.  Hire an SSD attorney with the experience you need to present your alcohol and drug issues to the judge.

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