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Can someone jeopardize their social security disability payments if they enroll in rehab for alcohol abuse?

Tamarac, FL |

My father have been battling depression for a few years now and resorting to alcohol as an outlet. Matters are getting worst and I want to find help for him, like going to rehab or similar, but will this affect what he receives from S.S Disability benefits. He is 58 years old now.

Thank you so much for your time and patience,

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Attorney answers 5

Best Answer

This is not easily answerable without knowing all of his disabling impairments. However, I can tell you this: If the alcohol use is NOT a material cause/factor of his disability, then it should not be used to defeat his current finding of disability. Also, the SSA will not know of this treatment unless and until they review him (CDR) and the records are noted and a HIPAA release signed. Moreover, by the time he has a CDR, he will hopefully be cleaned up and sober again after his treatment, and if still disabled by whatever disables him, the rehab will not even be relevant.

This is probably obvious, and if someone is ill like your father, it will probably not mean much, but I wish he'd realize that if he loses his SSDIB, he will REALLY have reason to be depressed even more than he is, so he needs to get his act together.

Good luck, your dad is lucky to have you.

Stephanie O. Joy, Esq., of JoyDisability, is an attorney licensed in New Jersey, but currently practicing federal Social Security Disability law in all 50 states from her PA office. Answers to questions are for general purposes only and do not establish an attorney-client relationship, nor do they constitute legal advice. Rather, if you need representation or legal advise, you need to make direct contact yourself, and inquire. We welcome and respond to all phone calls and emails.


I think that your first concern should be your father's health. If he is hurting himself from alcohol use, you should encourage him to seek help. That said, I also think him getting help will ultimately be good for his case. It is my experience that DDS tends to factor alcohol and drug use as a large negative when they consider a claimant's allegations. I have seen many people with completely meritorious claims that were denied because of some flimsy reasoning used to mask a doctor's hostility to substance abusers. For a lot of reasons, I think your father should get help.


Whether it would affect your father's SS Disability benefits, I cannot give a clear answer because it depends on many factors including the medical reasons for his disability. If the basis for his disability continues, your father should continue to receive his disability benefits. However, he will be receiving new medical evaluations which may jeopardize the status of his disability when his review time comes. However and most importantly if your father is getting worse and needs help, it is important to get the help. The depression and alcoholism can lead to many other problems


Rehabilitation for alcohol abuse does not affect your father's social security disability case or his monetary benefits so long as he is still disabled and he can manage his own funds.

Please be advise that all social security cases are different and the above answer may be different if important facts are not included in the inquiry.


If his disabling conditions are still present and continuous then it should not interfere with his benefits. Of course with mental illness it is always important to remove any substance abuse from the equation to get to the point where the mental condition is treatable. Often I see clients diagnosed with major depressive disorder while on drugs or alcohol and once the other substances are removed the person is actually bipolar and self-medicating. Having a clear and accurate diagnosis is crucial if the mental disorder is part of his disabling conditions. On top of all else, his health and well-being is the primary concern and he must have proper treatment in order to have the best quality of life.