People with disabilities often face difficulties that other people might not. Things that can be accomplished with ease by some people might be very difficult for someone with a disability. People who receive Social Security disability benefits do so because they are not physically able to work — something some people might find difficult to relate to.
Now, an Oregon man is testing the limits of what people might think of as a disability. In 2001, the man — a police officer in Gresham, Oregon — was driving a police vehicle when it went into a ditch. He refused to take a field sobriety test or a breath test at the scene, but he was arrested for drunk driving and later pleaded guilty. He was fired by the police department.
However, the former officer is now suing the city and the police chief, saying that he was discriminated against because of his disability: alcoholism. The Americans with Disabilities Act does mention alcoholism; however, experts say that the circumstances of the man’s arrest would not preclude him from being fired. The true intent of the law, observers say, is for employers to allow employees to manage the disability of alcoholism — by allowing them time off work to go to substance abuse counseling, for example.
Likewise, alcoholism is not recognized as a disability for the purposes of Social Security disability benefits. However, some of the effects of alcohol use — liver damage, depression and anxiety, for example — might qualify. An experienced Social Security disability attorney can help someone suffering from these conditions to apply for benefits.
Source: Associated Press, “Jason Servo: Police Can’t Fire Me Just Because I’m An Alcoholic,” Steven Dubois, April 26, 2013