The Social Security Administration (“SSA”) occasionally issues rulings known as Social Security Rulings regarding the disability process and how the Administrative Law Judges handle certain legal matters, including weighing of evidence.
Social Security Ruling 13-2p has not yet been published, but the SSA recently revealed to the public that it would be publishing the new ruling relatively soon. The new ruling deals with how the Administrative Law Judges view disability claims involving drug and alcohol addiction. Currently, the SSA does not permit a person to be found disabled if the reason for the disability is because of drug or alcohol addiction. This was not always the case, in fact, the SSA use to permit a finding of disabled if a person had a medical impairment caused or related to such types of addiction.
The new ruling will address how Administrative Law Judges weigh evidence of a disability claimant’s past or current addiction. The new ruling provides that if the disability claimant’s drug or alcohol problem is material, the Administrative Law Judge is required to view surrounding evidence to determine whether said medical or physical impairment(s) are directly related to, or caused by either the drug or alcohol addiction. If so, the Administrative Law Judge will likely find that the claimant is not disabled. If the Administrative Law Judge determines that the addiction(s), in and of itself, or themselves, are not the reason for the disability claimant’s ongoing impairments, and these ongoing impairments are sufficient and severe enough to warrant a finding of disabled, the addiction will not adversely affect the disability claimant’s claim for benefits.
The new ruling (SSR 13-2p) is meant to establish a framework for Administrative Law Judges regarding how to view and weigh evidence when dealing with a disability claimant who has a history of drug or alcohol addiction. Specifically, SSR 13-20 is meant to clarify the SSA’s policy when dealing with cases involving claimants who have a history of said addiction.
Obviously, this article does not address each and every point made in Social Security Ruling 13-2p, however, this article provides a rough summary of how the Social Security Administration is handling certain types of cases. If you are filing for Social Security disability benefits and have a history of either drug or alcohol addition or your claim is based, in part, on a current drug or alcohol addiction, you should contact a Social Security disability attorney for a free consultation. Most disability attorneys provide free legal advice regarding how to proceed with your claim.