In this day and age, medical marijuana prescriptions are becoming more routine. Many pain management providers are opting out of prescribing pain medications and steering their patients towards more holistic pain management including medical marijuana.
One concern when consuming medical marijuana is how it may affect your claim for disability benefits. Social Security has taken a hard stance on drug and alcohol use. The general belief is that if you are consuming drugs or alcohol then you are simply applying for disability benefits to support your habit without actually working. This is seen as a “drug bias” and can oftentimes be hard to overcome, especially depending upon the state you reside in.
In a perfect world, it is best to avoid all illegal substances when applying for benefits. However, in some cases that is just not possible. There are situations where prescription medications just cannot alleviate your symptoms. There are a lot of legitimate reasons an individual may require marijuana as a medication. Medical marijuana is often used as an appetite supplement in cancer patients who are undergoing chemotherapy or radiation. It is also used for individuals who suffer from severe anxiety as a way to calm their minds. While there are a lot of really good reasons a doctor might prescribe marijuana to treat your condition, the legitimacy of that prescription will need to be provided to Social Security.
If Social Security notes you have a history of drug or alcohol use they will have to look into your consumption more in-depth. When reviewing your disability claim, Social Security will need to determine if your marijuana use is material to your claim or not. Meaning, is your condition worsened by your drug use, or would it still persist if you abstained from all drugs and alcohol? In terms of consuming illegal drugs, Social Security will generally have a negative bias towards your case. SSA will not only determine materiality but will also use illegal drug use as a way to discredit your testimony. But if your drug consumption is prescribed by your treating doctor that is a different story.
While using medical marijuana may carry some negative bias, in general, that bias can be overcome through legitimacy. If you are suffering from extreme pain or anxiety and your doctor has prescribed you marijuana as a form of treatment then Social Security should not find your use as material to your condition.
It is logical to think that if your doctor is prescribing marijuana to treat your conditions then your condition is obviously not worsened by that use. Thus, a finding of materiality cannot be found. The other potential problem with drug use is how it will affect your credibility. I find the best way to restore your credibility in anyone’s eyes is to have the prescription well documented by a medical doctor, someone with an MD after their name. The best scenario would include not only a prescription but also a written statement from your doctor explaining why the use of medical marijuana is required.