Stephanie O. Joy, Esq.
Extra-Curricular Substances - Detracting from your SSD Claim
Updated: Jan 16, 2022
Tidbits of Treasures from Around the SSD Water Fountain - Don't Sink Your Ship Unnecessarily #1: Extra-Curricular Substances
Extra-curricular substances ... Are some of the many things that can unwittingly sink your SSD/SSI claim… as least as far as some of us long term practitioners have learned through experience (with special thanks to NBI's CLEs which provides a treasure trove of valuable bits, confirming what we experience in our cases.) This is not a judgement, by the way. But even consumption that you know is not addiction, but a non-invasive lifestyle choice (and we all vary), may NOT appear that way when presented in your medical records to the Judge in your case.
If you smoke (pot, cigarettes) or drink alcohol "excessively" or engage in illegal substance use, it is extremely likely that it will show up in your medical records. We see it in lab reports, and so does your Judge and his attorney advisors. We see it in cute dialogues some patients have with their medical providers that are later quoted (often mis-quoted) by the provider in that patient's records. If you rejoice over sharing your personal habits on social media like the front page of the paper it is, assume the Judge will know about it. If the use noted in medical records (but not the same for social media) appears extremely rare and irrelevant to your disability continuation, likely not a big deal. But often it is considered relevant to some degree by your own medical provider if he or she felt compelled to report it. Best practice is to refrain from regular use altogether, don't drink more than mildly social and not if you have a history of alcoholism or addiction, and above all, zip the lips if you are unsure of what effect any mis-statement by you or misunderstanding by your provider can ultimately have on your case and your financial future. Because that is what your SSD case is - it is your financial future. Let's treat it like the important life event it is.
See here for more: https://www.ssa.gov/OP_Home/cfr20/416/416-0935.htm
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