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Sonia L. Cain

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Posted on Tuesday, January 29, 2002 - 10:28 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only) Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Paul..Would chronic use of alcohol be a factor used in denying a disability claim?..My husband has all his credits in..has worked for more than 30 years at a company..now he has problems with his feet(back, legs, and hips)..Two doctors..one for him..one for Social Security..lol..anyway..he has been told to go to work..somewhere..just wondering about the alcohol use..and thank you for the site..will use it to convince him to hire an attorney NOW...
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Paul McChesney (Admin)

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Posted on Tuesday, January 29, 2002 - 11:16 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only) Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Sonia, alcoholism affects a disability case in complex ways. First, it is clear that you cannot draw disability if the only thing that disables you is alcoholism. You have to stop drinking and work.

Second, it is possible for the secondary effects of alcoholism to disable someone. If drinking has destroyed your liver, and your abdomen swells so much that you cannot even sit up to work, you can theoretically draw from that impairment.

Third, whatever the law says, some judges are hostile to alcoholics, so that, even if the impairment is not connected to alcoholism, there is some risk that the judge will come up with some excuse to deny the claim. This is not the law as it is written down, but is often the law as it is applied.

Fourth, it is often hard to tell whether alcoholism or something else is disabling someone. For example, heavy drinkers are often seriously disturbed psychologically because of the drinking. On the other hand, sometimes a person who is psychologically disturbed will drink in an attempt to self medicate. Theoretically, the second sort of person should get benefits. But in fact he is often denied, with the judge blaming the alcohol for the disability. The obvious way to solve this problem is to stop drinking and see if you are still disabled. I always try to get my clients to do this in those sorts of cases.

Fifth, if someone does stop, he or she can still be denied for being an alcoholic! The problem is that many alcoholics will deny their habit, and it is difficult for the judge to tell the difference between someone who is in denial and someone who is reformed. A solution is for that person to go, absolutely 2 times a week without fail to AA's or church or somewhere else that will not tolerate drinking, and have the AA sponsor or pastor to testify that he has been present and sober twice a week for a year. There are other solutions but those are my favorites.
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Gary Star
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Posted on Sunday, January 30, 2005 - 7:56 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only) Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
I am a Forty year old male and I have been diagnosed with Dementa due to head injuries,Bipolar disorder, panic disorder with agoraphobia, Pain disorder due to General Medical Condition and Psychological Factors,Previous alchol Abuse resolved.I have lots of documentation . I have three of the listings 1202 organic disorder,1204 effective disorder, and 1206 anxiety related disorders.My medications are abilify 30 mlg. a day , klonopin 2mlg a day, oxyconton 240 mlg a day. This has all been documented by a mental health therapist MSW,LCSW.also a PHd in psychiatry and MD. My current GAF score is 45.I was wondering if I have a chance to get Social security or SSI . I am not working and havent been for a long time . I am going to the psyatric services every two weeks and the MD every month . I live in NC and I just got my medicaid.
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Paul McChesney (Admin)
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Posted on Sunday, January 30, 2005 - 8:07 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only) Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Gary, surely you qualify. Abilify suggests a serious psychological problem, and any psychologist will say that anyone with a persistent GAF, or Global Assessment of Function, much below 60 cannot work.

One tricky thing is that if all of this is caused by alcohol abuse, you are going to lose your claim even though you are disabled; that is the clear law.

An even trickier thing is this: If you have been sober for years, but the judge suspects you are still drinking, you can still lose! Judges aren't perfect, and often make this mistake.

The solution is to go somewhere once a week, without ever missing a single week, between now an the hearing, where they will not put up with alcohol, and bring someone from that place to testify. That could be Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, any drug or alcohol rehab program, or church.
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Cindy D (Unregistered Guest)
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Posted on Sunday, February 27, 2005 - 8:59 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only) Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

My husband is 56 years old and has a heart condtion, he also is a severe alcoholic. Does Disability consider dibilitating alcoholism a qualifying conditon for Social Security Disability?
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Paul McChesney (Admin)
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Posted on Saturday, April 23, 2005 - 7:49 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only) Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Cindy: Well, yes, but it doesn't help you. If alcoholism is his only problem they will declare him disabled but ineligible, and he will lose any claim.

It is possible to win a claim for an alcoholic if they have something that disables them independent of the alcoholism.

Though theoretically that can be a psychological condition, and perhaps there are areas of the country where that argument works, around here it doesn't: I cannot win a claim for a practicing alcoholic who claims disability from a psychological condition.

From a heart condition that disables, maybe.

He will have a much higher chance of winning his claim if he stops drinking. You probably know all this, but Alcoholics Anonymous has a better recovery rate than the Betty Ford Clinic, and it's free. If he won't go, consider going to Al-Anon and doing what they say.
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Anonymous
 

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Posted on Wednesday, April 20, 2005 - 10:40 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only) Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

My brother is a 59 year old alcoholic with many different types of illnesses. He is now so mentally and physically impaired that he can't even hold an odd job. Currently he is in the hospital, and I, his sister am trying to get him as much help as possible. The doctor's have diagnosed that he does suffer from depression and has post traumatic syndrome. Within a three year period, he applied for Social Security and was turned down because they determined that because he was an alcoholic he deserved no further help then what he is getting. Currently he receives $108, per month from VA and food stamps. In the winter he receives HEAP. Even if this man were to stop drinking tomorrow, the damage he has done to himself is beyond repair. No one is going to hire this guy and he is physically too weak to hold a job. Is it true he is entitled to no further benefits?
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Paul McChesney (Admin)
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Posted on Monday, April 25, 2005 - 9:54 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only) Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Well, theoretically if he would be disabled even if he were not drinking he can get benefits. So, he needs to file again. But explain to him that, whatever the law says, it is now hard to get benefits if you are drinking - or if the judge thinks you are drinking.

He must also prove he has quit. If you prove AA's, NA's or church, twice a week and never missed between now and the hearing, will banish all suspicion that he is still drinking.

Take care and good luck.


(Message edited by admin on August 03, 2005)
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Anonym (Unregistered Guest)
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Posted on Sunday, February 26, 2006 - 6:22 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only) Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Just so you know, there's no requirement that people who attend AA meetings be sober. So just going to 2 AA meetings a week isn't proof that someone hasn't been drinking. Why do you keep recommending that?
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Paul McChesney (Admin)
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Posted on Sunday, February 26, 2006 - 8:09 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only) Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Absolutely correct! I have used sloppy language in my last post. I said, "banish suspicion that he is drinking"; I should have said, "that he is an alcoholic." The above strategy works most of the time, for me, if you get the sponsor in, to prove that the person is not an alcoholic. Why? Because you can slip around and drink if you go to AA meetings, but there is no law against moderate drinking, and it does not prevent work. On the other hand, it is about impossible for a professional alcoholic, of the sort whose alcoholism is what is disabling, to show up anywhere sober on a regular basis. Most people who show up regularly at AA meetings are sober enough to take the alcohol issue out of their case.

Re-reading my posts, I also see that I assume that what the alcoholic has to do is stop drinking altogether, as opposed to simply cutting back. I concede that for many an occasional drink or steady light drinking actually helps the cardiovascular system and does no harm to many. I concede that there are folks that are drinking a little more than they should, that need to cut back a little. But it is rare that drinking under those patterns comes up in a Social Security disability claim; alcohol does not keep those people from working. The AA position is that for the serious alcoholic, the best approach is to lay the bottle down and not pick it up again. Since they have the best success rate by far among this sort of alcoholic, and since in fact the AA approach seems to me to have been the only way out for the serious alcoholics I have dealt with over the years, I have taken it for granted that what the person is trying to do at AA's is to stop drinking entirely. That is a little more than he needs to do to win his disability case.

I should add that recently I have had some success with repeated blood level tests as proof of sobriety; but they have to be fairly frequent and on a schedule controlled by someone other than the claimant; or, for the drugs that will show in a hair sample, that approach.

Incidentally, if there is anyone who is reading this who has lost his job, and those around you have claimed it is because of your drinking, the AA crowd, the ex professional drunks, will tell you quick that there is a high probability that they are right; and I would bet that you are probably going to lose any Social Security disability claim based on a psychological condition.

(Message edited by admin on February 27, 2006)
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Paul McChesney (Admin)
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Posted on Sunday, March 12, 2006 - 1:21 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only) Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Cindy,
-No. If you prove he is disabled, but the reason is the alcoholism itself, you lose.
-Further, the fact of alcoholism colors the whole case, and makes it more difficult for him to win his case.
-Further, maybe other lawyers can, but it is very difficult for me to win a case based on psychological problems for someone who is drinking heavily. Technically this is possible, but it is very hard.
-If you can prove irreversible physical problems that are disabling, you might win a case, even if they are caused by the drinking, but you still have the problem of prejudice against heavy drinkers.
-His case becomes much easier to win if he stops drinking. There are a lot of good ways to try to get this done. I suggest you talk with the Al-Anon people in your area.
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z (Unregistered Guest)
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Posted on Friday, November 25, 2005 - 6:24 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only) Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

To whom it may concern,
I am a 24 year old male living in S.C. I suffer from constant depression as well as severe anxiety. Growing up I was diagnosed with ADD/ADHD as well as bi-polar disorder,(cyclothimia) I have been hospitalized multiple times for depression, suicide attempts,..most recently,...I have been hospitalized for drug abuse,...maybe 8 times in the past 4 years,....I have never kept a job for over 1 month,..in fact I went into the military & was discharged Other Than Honorable,..but not dishonorable after a very short time. I live in a constant state of depression,...feeling like the world is out to get me,...I hardly get along with anyone...these things only touch the barest surface of my problem. Is there any way that I can get help from SSi. Please E-mail me back at Strkurt@aol.com
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Paul McChesney (Admin)
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Posted on Sunday, March 19, 2006 - 8:06 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only) Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Z: If you cannot work you should apply. But I warn you that it is difficult to win a disability case based on a psychological condition if you continue to abuse drugs. You must also stop, and prove you have stopped.
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Dorothy S. Duncan (Unregistered Guest)
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Posted on Tuesday, May 09, 2006 - 8:10 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only) Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I live in South Carolina, and my soon to be exhusband is a drug adit, we have not lived together in 8+ years, the problem is he is leaving this saturday for a drug rehab place in N.C., and I have not received child support since Aug. of last year. I am about to loose my house and can bearly afford to feed our two sons. Would he or my two sons be eligable for any kind of social security help. He will be gone till the end of July. HELP!!

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This site is maintained by Paul McChesney, an attorney who has been practicing disability law for around 25 years in North and South Carolina.

If the subject of disability is important to you, or if you want to find out more about us, you should explore the rest of this site. To do so, go to our homepage, Carolina-disability.com.

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