Can you get disability benefits in Albuquerque if you’re a drug addict?

Albuquerque, NM – If you’re a drug addict or a heavy alcohol user, applying for disability benefits becomes a very sensitive issue.

On the one hand, the Social Security Administration (SSA) cannot legally deny you disability benefits because you have a substance abuse problem. On the other hand, you cannot apply for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits based solely on your addiction. Having an addiction is indeed a great problem, but the law doesn’t consider you deserve to be on benefits for that.

The only way you can get disability benefits is to prove that you have developed a medical condition that prevents you from holding a job and earning money to support yourself. The condition you suffer from must be on the SSA’s Red Book of qualifying disabilities. However, you must contact a seasoned Albuquerque disability lawyer before you apply for SSDI as the SSA is going to give you a lot of trouble.

Do I have to tell the SSA I have a substance abuse problem?

Lying to the SSA is not recommended. If they somehow find out about your addiction, they will certainly deny your application.

Your New Mexico social security lawyers can advise you how to present your situation.

The first thing the SSA employee in charge of your application will want to know is whether your drug or alcohol abuse is causing or worsening your physical condition. The next logical question is whether your condition would improve significantly if you stopped using. 

You should be able to answer No to both questions and have medical records to prove it. If your health would improve to the point that you could go back to work, the answer is simple. Stop drinking or stop doing drugs and get a job instead of asking for benefits. 

What if my condition was caused by drugs or alcohol?

Let’s say you have advanced liver disease and this was most probably caused by alcohol abuse over many years. Can you get disability benefits? The answer is Yes, you can. What matters is that you have a condition that is on the list and it’s severe enough to prevent you from holding a job. The damage is done and what caused your condition is irrelevant at this point. Even if you choose to keep drinking they cannot deny you benefits. It’s a personal choice you’re making. Once you have an irreversible condition and quitting drinking or drugs wouldn’t make any difference, they have to grant you benefits.

If they deny your application on such grounds, have your lawyers appeal the decision.

Here’s a list of conditions associated with long term alcohol or drug use:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Peripheral neuropathy
  • Personality disorders
  • Seizures
  • Organic mental disorders
  • Liver damage
  • Gastritis
  • Pancreatitis


If your doctor says that your condition is likely to last for at least 12 months, you qualify for SSDI. However, the SSA can, under certain circumstances, order you to go to rehab and make it a condition for receiving benefits. This can happen if quitting could improve your symptoms to the point that you could return to work. The SSA may appoint a representative payee to manage your benefits while you’re in rehab. Your case will be re-evaluated after 12 months. 

If you need help applying for SSDI or your benefits claim was recently denied, you should schedule a consultation with a reliable social security disability lawyer at the Jon Sipes law firm, serving New Mexico and Texas.

Contact info:

Jon Sipes Attorney at Law 

Phone: 915.500.4016

700 N Stanton St. Suite 210, El Paso, TX 79902


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