Institute on Disability


Estimating the prevalence of substance use, abuse and dependence among Social Security disability benefit recipients


With the passage of Public Law 104-121, the Contract with America Advancement Act of 1996, the federal Social Security Administration was no longer allowed to grant disability benefits to persons whose primary diagnosis was one of substance abuse or dependence. The National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH; Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 2004a), a nationally representative household survey, uses validated scales to measure rates of substance abuse and dependence among the U.S. population. In 2002, for the first time, the NSDUH also included questions about disability. Data from the 2002 survey is examined to determine whether issues of substance abuse and dependence are still relevant for the 2 Social Security programs that serve persons with disabilities: Social Security Disability Insurance (DI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Results indicate that a substantial portion of DI and SSI beneficiaries continue to struggle with issues of substance abuse.

Publication Date

Winter 2007

Journal Title

Journal of Disability Policy Studies


Sage Publications

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)


Document Type



Copyright © 2007, Hammill Institute on Disabilities