Can Taking Medical Marijuana Hurt My Disability Case?

Can Taking Medical Marijuana Hurt My Disability Case?

People can qualify for disability benefits if they have a medically determinable impairment that is so severe that it will result in death or prevent full-time employment. In order to prove that you are disabled, you must follow prescribed treatment for your medical conditions. In the most basic sense, people must follow the prescribed treatment of their medical professionals. If prescribed treatment is followed and you are still having difficulties with work, the Social Security Administration (SSA) is more likely to approve your disability claim. Most disability cases are decided at an administrative hearing. The Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) has the ability to decide if the person applying for benefits meets the disability requirements. One of the main factors that the ALJ will consider in deciding if someone meets the disability requirements is credibility. Therefore, all actions with medications and medical treatment will be used to determine credibility of the person applying for benefits. Below please find an explanation of how an ALJ may view the use of medical marijuana:
  • The ALJ may deny a disability claim on the use of medical marijuana. As discussed above, the ALJ determines credibility when deciding a claim. Social Security Disability Benefits is a federal program. Some states permit the use of medical marijuana. However, the legal use of marijuana is not recognized by the federal government. Therefore, the ALJ could consider the use of medical marijuana as an illegal activity. The ALJ may not want to approve the disability claim of someone that is engaging in illegal activity.
  • The ALJ could believe that the medical marijuana is harming the improvement of the disabling condition. Marijuana is an illegal drug, which could prevent or reduce the healing of the medical condition. Again, the SSA will evaluate the disabling condition in the best light or the best case scenario. If the medical marijuana was not being used, would the medical condition improve to the point where the individual applying for disability benefits could work? As with any illegal drug, it is possible that the use of the drug could prevent the healing of a medical condition.
  • If you are applying for disability benefits for a claim based on mental health symptoms, the ALJ has to consider how the drug use impacts the severity of the mental health condition. In most cases, the ALJ will believe that the use of the marijuana causes your mental health symptoms to be more severe. Therefore, the use of the marijuana could allow the ALJ to deny your claim based on mental health.
The use of marijuana with any disability case could make it difficult to approve your disability case. Therefore, it is in your best interest to explore legal treatment options before you decide to use marijuana. It does not matter that your state may allow medical marijuana because it is still not supported and legal to the federal government. You always want to explore legal medications and treatment before taking illegal drugs. Michael Riley Attorney at Law