Can I get Social Security Disability if I am treating my pain with medical marijuana? This is a common question because medical marijuana is legal in so many states and is an effective treatment for so many conditions.
Marijuana is still illegal on a federal level, and Social Security Disability is a federal program. Where some states consider medical marijuana as treatment, marijuana is still considered a drug on the federal level. Social Security policy regarding drug and alcohol use is: if your drug and/or alcohol use is a contributing factor to your impairments, then you will be denied disability. That is to say that if your severe impairments would persist regardless of your drug and alcohol use, you would qualify for benefits (so long as SSA has determined that you are disabled based on your severe impairments).
This is not difficult with physical impairments. If you have a knee problem, for example, it is unlikely that marijuana is contributing to your knee problem. Mental impairments are a bit more difficult. A medical professional may say that marijuana could contribute to a person’s depression, for instance.
What is you are already receiving SSDI or SSI? Can Social Security stop your benefits if they find out you are using marijuana? Here is the official word from the Social Security Administration:
“Nothing in the Social Security Act or our regulations prevents a person with a medical marijuana license from receiving Social Security benefits or SSI payments. We would stop an individual’s Social Security benefits, however, if he or she is convicted of a criminal offense (perhaps for the sale or possession of marijuana) and is then placed in a correctional institution for over 30 continuous days. Also, we would stop an individual’s SSI payments when the individual is confined in a public institution, such as a jail or prison, for a full calendar month.”
-Sarah Schultz Lackey, Spokesperson for the Social Security Administration Public Affairs Office
If you are using marijuana for medicinal purposes (or recreational), know that there is a fine line. If you are in the process of applying for Social Security Disability, your severe impairments need to be disabling in and of themselves. If there is evidence that your marijuana use has contributed to your disabling conditions, you could be denied. If you are receiving benefits already, don’t go to jail for more than 30 days!
Contact an attorney to assist you with your Social Security Disability case. Contact Yancey Disability, Inc. for Social Security Disability Representation today.