Will Cigarette Smoking Hurt my Claim?

Posted June 17, 2016 by Premier Disability Services, LLC®

Smoking while filing for SSD

Tobacco is one of the most difficult habits to quit. It is also one of the most common causes of severe pulmonary impairments. Claimants filing for Social Security Disability benefits due to a severe pulmonary impairment must be mindful of the impact continued smoking can have on their claim. The fact is that continued smoking will negatively impact a claim for disability benefits and may even be the primary reason for denial. From SSA’s perspective, engaging in activities that exacerbate a condition undermines a claim that the condition is disabling. Rather, SSA will often take the view that if the smoking ceased then the condition would improve. In addition, it can be difficult to prove a claimant is credible when they continue to smoke despite a severe impairment. Essentially, SSA will view this behavior as evidence that the claimant is non-compliant with treatment recommendations and simply does not want to get better.

In a perfect world, we would ask all of our clients, especially those suffering from a pulmonary impairment, to discontinue smoking immediately. However, we are realistic in our expectations and understand that this is very difficult for most claimants. Whenever possible, it is best to follow the treatment recommendations of a primary physician even if that recommendation is to quit smoking. Otherwise, claimants will want to reduce the amount they smoke on a daily basis so that SSA can see that their condition continues to be severe despite the reduction in tobacco use.

The majority of claimants filing for Social Security Disability benefits will wait multiple years before they receive benefits. They are often denied multiple times before receiving a favorable decision and some will never receive benefits. Claimants who smoke must ask themselves whether that habit is worth losing out on the disability benefits they may deserve. If you are interested in quitting tobacco use, you may want to speak with your doctor about treatment options.

By: Devon Brady of Premier Disability Services, LLC®