Alcoholism is a major issue for 14.4 million people over the age of 18. Because of their drinking habits, more than 9 million men and 5 million women in the U.S. have developed an alcohol use disorder.
With alcohol addiction comes a range of different complications, like finding or keeping a job, managing money, and integrating into society. Although alcoholism is often believed to be the result of bad decisions, it’s actually considered a disease in the medical community.
Unfortunately, this type of disease becomes a handicap for many. To overcome these issues, people are asking for disability benefits. But the question is, do experts consider alcoholism a disability?
Connection Between Alcohol and Disability
A huge portion of the population is drinking alcohol regularly. Some abuse the substance on a day-to-day basis, while others try to abstain from their drinking habits. What people fail to notice is that there is a close link between alcohol and disabilities.
Clinical reports show that the risk of disability and dangerous health consequences vary based on a patient’s drinking habits. People who are addicted to alcohol often have to deal with debilitating pain, extreme stress, and the inability to complete daily activities.
Light drinkers and those in recovery from alcoholism have the lowest chance of developing a disability or other health complications. However, those who abuse the substance or have developed a dependence are at risk of experiencing serious psychological, occupational, social, and medical consequences.
Take a look at the graph below. This is a detailed analysis of the drinking prevalence rate in the United States and its risk of disability.
It’s important for alcohol abusers to get routine medical screenings. That way, they reduce their possibility of health complications and disability. Clinicians should provide patients with proper alcohol management strategies, supervised treatment, and specialized counseling.
Heavy drinkers must be able to recognize their dangerous habits and seek timely treatment. The medical action will depend on the severity of the damage caused by their drinking habit.
According to the NIH, 1.2 drinks a day is considered light drinking. While anything above 3.5 drinks is heavy drinking. When a person consumes 8 to 15 typical alcoholic beverages a week, they’ve developed a risky drinking habit. It is only a matter of time before they develop a dependence or get addicted to alcohol.
If you are suffering from alcohol abuse, an inpatient alcohol rehab center in North Texas, like Stonegate Center, can help. With constant supervision and specifically tailored treatment plans, any patient can get their life back on track.
Is Alcoholism a Disability?
It could be.
Alcohol abuse is an impairment and a disease, plus dependence is not a choice. It takes a toll on numerous parts of a person’s life. It can impair concentration, learning, social interaction, emotions, etc. These are all factors that represent a disability.
According to experts, the ADA (Americans With Disability Act) guarantees that individuals with disabilities have the exact same opportunities and rights as anyone else. This includes those struggling with alcohol abuse or anyone who is in the process of recovery from heavy drinking. However, they would have to fill specific requirements to get benefits.
How Can Alcoholics Receive Benefits?
Alcohol-addicted individuals can receive protection from the ADA if they are qualified for disability. They can get benefits if they have a mental or physical impairment.
When a person experiences health complications on a psychological or physiological level that impair their ability to function, they can be eligible for ADA protection. Regardless of whether they were addicted to drinking in the past or present, their habits will still be viewed as a disability.
According to the Code of Federal Regulations, a disability examiner will go through a series of steps to determine if an alcoholic is eligible for disability benefits. Here is a detailed analysis of each step that’s involved in the assessment process.
After the steps have been completed, the disability examiner can determine whether or not the applicant will receive benefits. The impairment will be recognized if it has taken a toll on the applicant’s neurological or brain functions.
If that individual receives protection, they could ask their employer to accommodate their needs as an alcoholic. For example, they could ask for a flexible work schedule or time off to get counseling treatments.
However, an employer is allowed to deny or discharge an alcoholic who has been poorly performing at work due to their drinking habits. The employer has the right to forbid the use of alcohol at work and ask their workers to avoid being under the influence while on the job.
Look for an alcohol medical detox center near Fort Worth if you’re in the DFW area and are in need of proper alcohol treatment. Here, medical professionals can help patients flush out all the toxins from their system. Remember: you don’t want to detox at home – it’s extremely dangerous!
How to Qualify for Disability Benefits?
People can qualify for disability benefits (SSI or SSD benefits) based on their medical records. All clinical records, notes, or statements they’ve acquired from a physician must meet a disability prognosis.
So, anything that might specify the impact of alcohol addiction, the ADA will consider it as proof of disability. That includes:
- Hospital stays
- Blood tests
- Treatment notes
- Doctors’ prognoses
- X-rays, CT scans, or MRIs
- Physical therapy
Patients also need information from their work, vocation, and academic info (if they are underage). When an adult applies for SSI or SSD benefits, the disability examiner will ask for any historical record that might prove their disability.
The examiner will assess the patient’s mental and physical state, their ability to work, their past experience with work, and whether or not they are suitable to do a certain type of job.
In other words, people can’t get benefits just by having alcohol addiction. They need to meet certain standards based on their functional limitations.
If there is woman in your life who is in desperate need for alcohol treatment, try our 90-day residential addiction treatment program for women located just west of Fort Worth, Texas. No matter how complex the addiction might be, with constant supervision and medication, as well as a detailed after-care plan you can overcome your dangerous drinking habit.
When and Where Are Alcoholics Protected Under ADA?
The disability act is often misunderstood.
Many people have no clue when their disability benefits apply. So, they may not make the most of it. That’s why it’s important to take a look at a few examples to better-understand the ADA.
EXAMPLE 1: Sasha frequently arrives late at the office. Her supervisor warns her once and for a second time about coming to work on time. But, by the third time, she hasn’t fixed her routine. Sasha explains to her supervisor that she has a serious alcohol addiction. Her bad habits are the result of heavy drinking. She asks the supervisor to get time off to go to a medical detox program to help manage her withdrawal symptoms under 24/7 supervision.
Does the ADA Protect Sasha?
Yes, but it’s a bit complex.
Sasha will not receive special treatment for her late arrivals and tiredness. Her supervisor doesn’t need to withdraw those warnings or accommodate to her drinking. The supervisor shouldn’t allow her to keep arriving late for work.
It’s normal for an employer to provide all employees with the same treatment and standards. The supervisor is, however, expected to give Sasha a time off to get to rehab. Unless the employer can prove that Sasha’s absence was the result of something else, rather than alcohol addiction.
EXAMPLE 2: Martin’s manager hears from other employers that Martin is addicted to alcohol. She reassigns Martin to a less paid job that is not as stressful as his previous position. She is worried that stress at work might contribute to his drinking, although the manager hasn’t noticed any problems at work.
Does the ADA Protect Martin?
Yes. If he has alcohol addiction, he has a disability. However, Martin’s manager violated the ADA. She gave Martin a lower-paying job, although his addiction hasn’t caused any work-related issues.
Why Do Countless Disability Applications Get Declined?
Not everyone can get benefits. Some people will be less inclined to get ADA protection. In fact, 2/3 of alcohol disability applicants get declined.
Their ability to receive benefits greatly depends on two specific factors. It is important that you recognize these factors to know if you can apply for benefits.
- No. 1: Lack of Information
If an alcohol addict can’t explain their condition, particularly how their drinking habit limits their capability to work, they won’t be able to get benefits. Also, if their representative or attorney doesn’t have enough evidence to build a solid case, these individuals won’t receive benefits.
That happens because the disability examiner has determined that the applicant doesn’t have enough information to support their addiction. In other words, the examiner needs more information on the applicant’s daily life, previous work experience, alcoholic medication treatment, or counseling experience.
The applicant must present all the evidence they have if they want to receive benefits.
- No. 2: No Medical Statements
If the applicant hasn’t acquired a statement from their doctor, they will have no proof to defend their case. Any statement of medical treatment can help them win their case. However, it’s not enough to get a note from the doctor that simply states the applicant is disabled.
Instead, these medical statements must fulfill the disability examiner’s requirements. As a result, applicants often turn to help from their attorneys or representatives. They fill out a form that helps point out any clinical statement that can prove the applicant is disabled.
Without these forms, it’s impossible to get SSI or SSD benefits.
Will Enrolling in Alcohol Rehab Get You ADA Protection?
Many people are wondering if going to rehab will automatically give them ADA protection. Like enrolling for a long-term substance abuse treatment center for alcoholism. This is a very good question.
It’s true that many employers find it hard to determine whether they can discipline a worker who has an alcohol addiction. Those employees who test positive often get admitted to treatment for 30 days.
When that employee leaves rehab, they claim to be disabled and have ADA coverage. As a result, many employers are reluctant to give other workers free days to get rehab treatment. But the problem is that many people don’t understand the crucial facts.
No one gets automatic ADA protection. When a person admits their alcohol addiction, they can’t just enter rehab and expect to get ADA protection. Instead, they must apply for ADA coverage just like anyone else.
Those who don’t understand ADA requirements often try to defend their benefits in court. But, in these cases, the employer will always win.
For example, an employer has just fired a worker for drinking alcohol on the job. The worker files a lawsuit against their employer, claiming that they went to alcohol rehab and gained ADA coverage.
The worker presents his blood tests, treatments, and medical records to prove his case. But, soon after, his lawsuit is declined. The reason is relatively simple; the worker never applied for ADA coverage.
This is a clear example of what it means to actually apply for coverage. No matter how many times you’ve gone to rehab, without actual ADA affirmation, you don’t automatically get coverage.
Are you looking for an alcohol detox center near me that takes health insurance? The Inpatient Alcohol Rehab in North Texas can provide you with everything you need.
Can Employers Fire Workers for Alcohol-Induced Misconduct?
Experts claim that workers can’t blame their bad behavior on alcohol. Instead, employers have the right to fire an employee if they are misbehaving.
For example, if they destroy private property, abuse their co-workers, or commit an offense on the job, they can be fired regardless of how much they’ve drunk that day.
There is no discrimination whatsoever towards an employee who is misbehaving because of their drinking habit. Also, there is no reason for the employer to forgive that worker. The employer doesn’t have to rehire that worker who failed to behave appropriately at work.
What they can do is suggest workers get treatment. Look for a chronic alcoholism rehab center near me if you need help.
Can Employers Ask Workers to Get Tested for Alcohol After Leaving Rehab?
Many workers take time off from work to start rehab, but the moment they get back to work, their boss asks them to do a periodic alcohol test. This can be frustrating for employees. Is it allowed?
The answer is yes. Employers have the right to ask their workers to get an alcohol test, explains the Job Accommodation Network, especially if they have a solid belief from previous experience that the worker may be vulnerable to drinking.
However, it’s important that employers are fully aware of the safety risks. They must analyze the position a worker holds, particularly if they have no reasonable belief to do periodic alcohol testing. That’s why it would be in your best interest to consult with an attorney before you make any claims.
Disabilities and alcoholism are closely connected. What matters is that you understand disability benefits to reintegrate back into society. It’s always better to learn the benefits, rather than to jump to conclusions. The guideline here can provide you with all the information you need.
John Eckelbarger is a Business Development Representative for Stonegate Center. With a BSA in Chemistry from the University of Texas at Austin, he has an interest in the neurobiology of addiction & pharmacology of drugs. He hopes to bolster Stonegate Center to the forefront of addiction medicine through bold, innovative content. He is currently pursuing his MBA in Finance from Texas Christian University.