At the Sullivan Law Office, we interview a large number of prospective disability clients every week. While many of them are anxious to discuss their reasons for believing they are entitled to benefits, our lawyers also like to focus on any relevant personal facts that may provide reasons or grounds for the denial of benefits. At times, these reasons may be within the control of the applicant and therefore avoided to prevent any denial of benefits. This is one of the main reasons why the representation of an experienced disability attorney is vital to the initial application process. This is the third part of a blog on reasons why the SSA denies an applicant Social Security benefits. Please stay tuned for part four!
Lack of Contact
The Social Security Administration (SSA) and Disability Determination Services (DDS), the latter being the State Agency that determines an applicant’s medical eligibility for benefits at the lower levels of adjudication, must be able to communicate with applicants, not only to notify them of important, critical matters, but also to schedule examinations and hearing dates. Retaining a knowledgeable, qualified, disability attorney provides a second source of contact. Now the case can be developed even if the claimant cannot reach the SSA. Calling your attorney is easy. Keeping in contact monthly with your attorney is always a good idea.
Drug Addiction or Alcoholism
An applicant is not eligible to receive benefits if an alcohol or drug addiction prevents him or her from working. The same outcome as to eligibility will occur if a disabling condition is the result of continued use of drugs or alcohol. The SSA has special laws on this topic. The key legal word is material. Simply put, if continued substance abuse is material to what disables you, the Agency cannot pay you. However, benefits may be received for conditions caused by drugs or alcohol, as long as drugs or alcohol are not the main contributing factor to the disability.
For example, we have had cases where a claimant literally drank and smoked his way to heart failure. His heart was irreparably damaged, and it barely worked. He would never get better. Sadly, he belligerently continued to drink and smoke, wanting to “enjoy” his final months. The SSA paid him. To win this case, we got medical testimony that it no longer mattered what he did, his heart was pretty much done. In that case, we proved that his ongoing substance abuse was not material. Consider someone who used i-v drugs and got Hepatitis C. Their liver then fails…. Subsequently, they stopped using drugs but the damage was already done. A case based on liver failure can be heard on the merits because there is no current use or abuse, and the damage is already done with no reasonable expectation of medical improvement.
Compare these examples to a depressed person who drinks. For SSA purposes, alcohol is typically considered a central nervous system depressant. We inevitably get into arguments over “how depressed” the person really is, absent the alcoholism. These are hard cases. The claimant is in the best position to answer that question- just quit drinking and let us see what depression remains. Sometimes, if we can get older records, we can prove serious emotional trauma preceded the drinking, which is very helpful. Call a lawyer about this issue.
One of the best ways to improve your chances of avoiding the denial of benefits is by retaining the services of a qualified Kentucky Social Security Disability attorney. Working with an attorney that is experienced in Kentucky Social Security Disability cases ensures that you have the best chance of successfully filing a disability application. If you have any questions or concerns about any kind of disability cases, including Social Security Disability, long-term disability, short-term disability, state retirement and workers’ compensation, call the Sullivan Law Office today! Call 888-587-0228 or visit us online. We have forty years of experience