Can I Get Disability Benefits Under the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) for My Addiction?

is addiction a disability

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), about 61 million people (1 in 4) in the United States live with some form of disability.[1] Living with a disability of any kind can lead to challenges in some aspects of life. It could also mean a higher likelihood of developing an addiction to drugs or alcohol.

People with a disability develop an addiction at a rate that is two to four times higher than the general population.[2] More research is needed to support the theory that addiction and disability are somehow linked. Some may wonder how disability and substance abuse influence each other or if addiction is itself a disability.

Living with addiction can have severe negative consequences on every aspect of your life. It can harm your mental and physical health, strain essential relationships, and lead to serious legal or financial trouble. Addiction can also be life-threatening.

Addiction’s impact on your life may feel overwhelming–and even disabling. If you live with addiction, you may wonder if you can get disability benefits through the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA). We will explore how the ADA provides disability benefits and how to determine if you are eligible to claim disability benefits due to addiction.

If you or someone you love require addiction treatment or support during recovery, reach out to the caring specialists at Moving Mountains Recovery today. 

What is the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA)?

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was enacted in 1990. The ADA prohibits discrimination against people with all types of disabilities. It requires public buildings and transportation to be accessible to those with physical and cognitive disabilities. The ADA allows people with disabilities to work, go to school, and live independently.[3] 

Before the ADA was enacted, there were very few legal protections for people with disabilities. People with disabilities did not have equal access to basic necessities like housing, employment, and health care. Many people lived marginalized lives with very little hope of improvement. Because of the ADA, people with disabilities may receive various types of support and have greater freedom to live productive lives. 

While there is still more progress to be made, the ADA has improved the quality of life for many people living with a disability in the United States. 

What Defines a Disability Under the ADA?

Under the Americans With Disabilities Act, a disability is defined as:

  • A physical or mental impairment that keeps you from caring for yourself. This includes activities of daily living like eating, shopping, sleeping, and caring for your hygiene.
  • An impairment that interferes with your essential functions, like breathing and neurological functioning
  • Being treated negatively based on the assumption of having an impairment

Some examples of conditions that could be considered a disability under the ADA include:

  • A diagnosed substance use disorder (SUD)
  • Vision impairment–full or partial blindness
  • Hearing loss–full or partial
  • Mental illnesses such as anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder

People who have been diagnosed with one of these conditions may be eligible for protection and benefits under the Americans With Disabilities Act. 

Is Addiction a Disability?

The effects of addiction can be profound. People who live with substance abuse or addiction can face a range of severe consequences to their mental and physical health. Addiction can prevent people from living a fulfilling life and make it nearly impossible to have healthy relationships. Many people who abuse drugs and alcohol may be unable to work, go to school, or care for their families. 

The ADA defines substance use disorders as a disability.  People diagnosed with a substance use disorder may qualify for financial benefits under the ADA, but it’s important to note that the only people who qualify are those who are in recovery, no longer using drugs and alcohol, but still suffering from impairment.[4]

Can I Get Disability Benefits Under the ADA?

If you live with substance abuse or addiction, you may qualify for protection and benefits under the Americans With Disabilities Act. To claim benefits, you must determine if you are eligible. This involves:

  1. Establish that you have a disability. 
  2. Provide medical evidence of an addiction.
  3. Determine if your impairment would continue if you stopped using drugs and alcohol. 
  4. Seek addiction treatment at an approved facility.
  5. Comply with all treatment requirements. 

People who meet specific criteria may be able to claim benefits based on their disability. These benefits include Social Security Disability (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income. Social Security Disability and Supplemental Security Income are payments that you can use to help you pay rent, buy groceries, and meet your essential needs. The payments you receive are generally based on your financial needs. 

Receiving SSDI and Supplemental Security Income can help you continue to live independently while unable to work–or have to work less– due to a disability. If you qualify for benefits under the ADA due to addiction, you may be limited in how long you can claim the benefits and how much income you can earn from other sources. 

Get Help Now

Getting sober is the best thing you can do for yourself. If you or a loved one need addiction treatment or support during recovery, reach out to the caring specialists at Moving Mountains Recovery today. 

References:
1. https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2018/p0816-disability.html

2. https://store.samhsa.gov/sites/default/files/d7/priv/sma11-4648.pdf

3. https://adata.org/learn-about-ada

4. https://adata.org/factsheet/ada-addiction-recovery-and-employment

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