Medical Marijuana and Social Security Disability
If Social Security finds that you are disabled and have medical evidence of your drug addiction or alcoholism, they will then determine whether your drug addiction or alcoholism is a contributing factor material to the determination of disability. If so, they may find you ineligible for benefits. This has ramifications for those using marijuana or cannabis to either self-treat for conditions or who are using marijuana as treatment under the direction of a health care provider.
The key factor Social Security examines in determining whether drugs or alcohol is a contributing factor material to the disability is whether or not they would still find you disabled if you stopped using drugs or alcohol, in this case marijuana. They will attempt to determine what degree of disability would remain if you stopped using drugs or alcohol.
Because marijuana is still illegal under federal law and because of biases against marijuana that still exist, in some cases even where there is little actual evidence that the marijuana is a contributing factor to one’s illness, Social Security will assume that it is, especially in cases of mental illness such as depression. Fortunately, many of the conditions for which marijuana is used as a successful treatment are unlikely to be made worse by using medical marijuana. If you are a patient and participate in the medical marijuana program, you may have a greater chance at having a Social Security Administration Judge not find that your condition is a contributing factor to your disability. Because Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana program requires the recommendation of a treating physician to participate, you may be able to successfully argue that a treating physician would not recommend the medication if he or she thought it would worsen your disability.
Therefore, we recommend that if you are a candidate for Social Security Disability, you register as a patient with the recommendation of physician certified to recommend the medicine in compliance with Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana program. For more information about how to register as a medical marijuana patient in Pennsylvania, you may visit the Pennsylvania Department of Health’s medical marijuana website here. To determine if you physician is certified to recommend medical marijuana or to find one who is, you may check the physician registry linked on the same site.
If you have any questions about your eligibility for Social Security Disability you should speak with an experience Social Security Disability attorney.