At a Social Security disability hearing, your claim will be decided by an Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”). If you are applying for disability benefits, you should be aware that there are ALJs who are biased against smokers and will use it as a reason to deny claims.
Pain and smoking
Studies have shown that smokers tend to be less responsive to chronic pain treatments. Particularly in cases of spinal surgical procedures, smoking also can interfere with healing. Everydayhealth.com states that smoking makes chronic pain worse, increases pain sensitivity and perception, and interferes with pain medication. Because of the research, there are some ALJs who believe that a claimant would not be disabled and would not have as much pain if they simply stopped smoking and will deny benefits because of it. Some ALJs also deny benefits for conditions like emphysema or other lung diseases if the claimant smokes because they believe the claimant’s condition would improve by stopping smoking.
The ALJ may also question your believability if you say you cannot afford to see a doctor or pay for pain medication, yet you smoke. Appeals courts have agreed with ALJ’s who have found that a claimant was not believable in saying that they could not afford treatment but were able to buy and smoke cigarettes.
If you are applying for Social Security Disability or SSI benefits, consider quitting to avoid the problem of ALJ bias against smokers. For additional help with your disability claim, contact a disability attorney.
Copyright (c) 2010 by John V. Tucker and Tucker & Ludin, P.A. All rights reserved. For assistance with your Long Term Disability claim, ERISA Disability benefit claim, Social Security Disability claim, or Veterans Disability compensation or pension claim, call Disability Lawyer John Tucker at (866) 282-5260.