While individuals can’t actually get disability benefits specifically for a drug addiction, they may qualify for Social Security Disability (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) if they are currently addicted to drugs or had a previous addiction.

Qualifying for Disability with a Drug Addiction

Drug addiction can significantly impair a person’s ability to perform work of any type, but it’s important to keep in mind that a drug addiction alone isn’t enough to warrant benefits. The Social Security Administration (SSA) doesn’t consider substance abuse to be a valid cause of disability until it has resulted in certain irreversible medical conditions.

However, individuals with current or prior drug addictions may still qualify for disability if they meet other qualifications that are in place for all applicants.

Qualifications Needed for Disability Benefits

When filing for disability benefits, the SSA will review the application and determine if the applicant qualifies based on the following criteria:

  • The applicant doesn’t earn $1,260 or more every month through work.
  • The condition preventing the individual from working can’t be expected to last for less than 12 months
  • The condition must prevent the applicant from being able to return to work.

The SSA is likely to deny any application if the applicant doesn’t meet all of these basic requirements.

Debilitation Resulting from Drug Addiction

The SSA may not approve applications for disability benefits on the basis of drug addiction on its own, but the administration does acknowledge that substance abuse can result in certain irreversible mental and medical conditions.

Up until 2017, the SSA had a listing in place for drug addiction. The listing was for individuals who had experienced certain specific changes in physical or behavioral health because of the regular abuse of illegal or prescription drugs affecting the central nervous system. Some of these changes included brain damage, pancreatitis, liver damage, gastritis, seizures, peripheral neuropathy, major depression, anxiety disorders, or a type of personality disorder.

While there is no longer any listing in place specifically for drug addiction, applicants for disability can qualify for benefits if they meet one of the various listings for impairments resulting from drug addiction.

Even if a person is still addicted to a drug at the time of applying for disability, the SSA won’t be able to deny the application based solely on an ongoing addiction. However, the SSA may deny the application if they determine that the applicant’s condition could recover once they stop abusing the substance.

Ultimately, if an individual is unable to recover from a condition resulting from a prior or ongoing addiction, he or she may qualify for disability benefits.