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Is alcoholism a qualifying disability for SSDI?

Karns & Kerrison

You may often hear from people in Rhode Island who are upset about the government's social programs complaining that anyone who is an alcoholic can get Social Security Disability benefits with no trouble. This is based on old information or a misunderstanding of how the system works. According to the Social Security Administration, alcoholism has not been a qualifying disability for SSDI since 1997.

In 1997, a new law came into effect that stripped the rights of anyone to receive Social Security benefits solely due to alcohol dependency. The 1996 Contract with America Advancement Act was the law. Prior to this, you very well could get SSDI if you claimed alcoholism as your primary impairment. However, once passed, the Act changed everything. 

It is important to note that prior to 1997, there was also a restriction on benefits received due to alcoholism. In 1972, a law was enacted that made so you could not receive your benefits directly if you were an alcoholic. You would have had to have a representative who received and managed the benefits on your behalf. 

So, there has been some type of restriction on alcoholism being used to receive SSDI benefits since 1972. You may be led to believe that alcoholism is a qualifying condition, though, because many people who are alcoholics suffer from secondary conditions that do qualify. So, it is quite possible to receive SSDI if you have alcohol dependency issues, but it is not the alcoholism that will qualify you for the benefits. This information is intended for education only and should not be used as legal advice. 

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