Are alcoholism and drug addiction disabilities? That question has been asked for years. A long time ago the answer would’ve been “No”. But, recently, science has taken a different opinion.
We now know that addiction is a disease. It comes from a chemical imbalance in the brain. It’s not something people can easily overcome. The good news is that it is treatable.
But can these diseases be classified as disabilities? It’s a difficult question to answer. These conditions are complex. But they can also affect a person’s life in the same way as a disability.
The article below discusses this side of addiction. It will cover disability laws, how addictions are classified, and more.
It’s easy to say that addictions are disabilities. Anyone who has dealt with it in their own lives would agree. But, there’s more to it than that. A Disability is actually an official classification from the U.S. Government. This is because the government will give out certain disability benefits.
The Social Security program provides benefits for disabled Americans. These Americans must meet certain criteria in order to take advantage of these financial resources.
Social security is paid out of your taxes from every paycheck. You’re eligible for these benefits if you pay into the program. These benefits are paid out based on who needs them most. Social security officials determine eligibility based on the personal and medical information provided.
Social Security benefits used to be available to people suffering from addiction. This was the case before 1996. Since then, the answer to the question “Are alcoholism and drug addiction disabilities?” has taken a different turn.
Are Alcoholism and Drug Addiction Disabilities to the SSA?
Congress has amended the law since 1996. Americans can no longer receive disability benefits because they suffer from addiction. You still have the right to apply for benefits. Only now, you have to prove that you would still suffer from your disabilities even without your addiction.
The Social Security Administration still has the right to deny you benefits. You might be denied if they believe your disabilities are a result of your addiction. This doesn’t mean you won’t get any benefits if you abuse drugs or alcohol. The information you provide needs to prove the disability happened independently of your addiction.
For example, if someone had an addiction but also suffered from back pain they might be denied. If the back pain didn’t prevent them from working, the SSA would deny benefits.
If the disability conditions are separate from the addiction the SSA might approve your benefits. An example might be if someone is struggling with drug addiction but inherited kidney disease from their parents. This person would qualify because their disability would still be there. Even if the addiction didn’t exist.
Are Alcoholism and Drug Addiction Disabilities?
When digging into the answer to “Are alcoholism and drug addiction disabilities?”, we need to look at substance abuse disorder. It can also be referred to as substance addiction disorder.
Substance addiction disorder is a category that’s recognized by the SSA. This category admits that alcohol abuse is an official disability. This allows for a person to receive disability benefits related to alcoholism. Americans can receive benefits for disabilities related to alcoholism. They can’t receive benefits for the addiction itself.
Some conditions that would qualify for benefits are:
- Organic Brain Syndrome
- Nerve and Liver Damage
- Anxiety Disorders
- Personality Disorders
All of these conditions result in major physical or behavioral changes. That’s one of the SSA’s requirements. Any changes from the addiction must also affect the central nervous system to qualify.
The ADA Stance On Alcoholism
The ADA is the American Disabilities Act. They view alcoholism differently than the SSA. The ADA views alcoholism as a mental health issue. As a result, employers can’t fire employees because of it. The ADA also prevents employers from disciplining employees due to alcoholism. In addition, employers need to make “reasonable accommodations” for the addiction.
If they fail to provide “reasonable accommodations” it can be considered illegal discrimination. These accommodations include granting employees time off for attending rehab. Employers only need to grant this time off as long as it doesn’t cause them “undue hardship”.
So, in the case of the ADA, the answer would be “Yes”. They do classify alcoholism as a disability. Employers are expected to provide rehabilitation and financial resources to employees suffering from alcoholism. The financial resources would come as time off granted to the employees.
Naturally, claiming alcoholism as a disability has its limits. Employees can’t cite alcoholism as a reason why they didn’t show up to work. They are still expected to follow the rules of the workplace. If they show up drunk or violate any workplace procedures, their job could be in question.
The ADA Stance On Drug Addiction
The ADA treats drug addiction a little differently than alcoholism. That’s why it makes it a little more difficult to answer the question, “are alcoholism and drug addiction disabilities?”.
The ADA will only provide protections for drug addiction in certain cases. A user needs to be in recovery to receive any benefits from the ADA. If they are currently using drugs the ADA will deny them any benefits.
The question of, “Are alcoholism and drug addiction disabilities?” still works out the same for employers. They still have to abide by the same rules and regulations. They can’t punish, hire, or fire employees based on their past addictions. But, if that person is currently abusing drugs, they’re not protected under the ADA.
The Final Say
So, are alcoholism and drug addiction disabilities? Well, the answer is “kind of”. Employees can’t expect to receive benefits for the addiction itself. But, they may get benefits if they have an injury or disability. As long as the disability is separate from the addiction, and they’re not currently using, they should be entitled to benefits.
If you have any questions on alcoholism and drug addiction as disabilities, contact Just Believe today. We can also help you if you’re looking for the right rehabilitation program.