On February 20, 2013, The Social Security Administrated published a new ruling, SSR 13-2p, entitled “Evaluating Cases Involving Drug Addiction and Alcoholism.” It appears in Federal Register, Vol. 78, No. 34 (Docket No. SSA-2012-0006).
The policy clarifies and replaces prior policies, which essentially prohibited a granting of Social Security Disability, for claimants who had an active drug and/or alcohol policy. The key factor in the the new policy is whether a given claimant would still be found disabled, if he or she stopped using drugs or alcohol. In other words, if the drug or alcohol addiction was not a material aspect of the disability, it might still be possible for a Social Security Judge to determine that a given claimant was disabled.
An example of such a situation, according to Social Security Disability Attorney Randy Zeldin, Esq., might be an individual with a psychotic disorder, who started using alcohol to relieve symptoms. This scenario is not uncommon, particularly when the psychiatric care is inadequate or non-existent. Another example would be a chronic pain patient, who utilized illicit drugs such as marijuana, in order to relieve symptoms.