Should I Tell SSA That I Use Medical Marijuana?

Applying for SSDI benefits while you use medical marijuana is a common thing nowadays, as physicians are prescribing them more recently. However, letting SSA know about your medical marijuana use doesn’t guarantee a denied claim. But it is not an ideal move always, as the act may make SSA suspicious of your claim.

There are so many conditions that may require medical marijuana as their medication. Many of them are disabling and may make you eligible for SSDI benefits. But, the truth still is that marijuana use is illegal by the federal laws.

Even so, medical marijuana is legal in 38 states in the USA, while 24 states allow even recreational usage. But, since the SSA is a federal agency, it may still not favor weeds as a medicational content. As a result, you may want to be careful about disclosing your medical marijuana use to them.

Rising Use of Medical Marijuana for Various Health Conditions

As we mentioned, many states in the USA legalized the medical use of marijuana. Because of the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment passed in 2014, the federal agency can’t prosecute anyone using cannabis for medical purposes if their state allows it.

As a result, the 38 states that allow medical marijuana have increased the usage of cannabis as a medicinal content. Moreover, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) also approved many marijuana-derived content, including cannabinoid drugs.

We can guess that even more states will move towards legalizing medical marijuana and even recreational use since the majority of the nation supports them. But does that mean you can freely talk about your cannabis use to the SSA? Let’s discuss that in a minute.

Understanding SSA Disability Benefits

Many disabled patients in the USA are getting financial help thanks to many benefit programs by SSA. They set two separate benefits for disabled individuals- the Supplemental Security Income or SSI and the Social Security Disability Insurance or SSDI. Here are some of them that you may want to know about-

  • The SSI benefit is one where SSA pays to a disabled individual who earns below a certain amount or has a meager amount of resources. The highest SSI payment is $674 for individuals and $1,011 for couples.
  • The SSDI benefit is where SSA provides a certain amount to people with disabilities who worked towards social security and met the age and working time eligibility.
  • Child’s Disability Benefit is another one where a blind or disabled child under 18 may receive benefits if their parents died but worked towards social security for a specific period or are alive and are getting social security disability benefits or retirement benefits.
  • The Disabled Adult Child Benefits is for children under 22 who were disabled before 22 with parents getting social security disability or retirement benefits or died but worked towards social security for a certain period.
  • Disabled Widow and Widower’s Benefit is where SSA pays to any disabled person who is 50 or over and whose spouse died after working towards social security for a specific time.

Remember that all the above benefits have many other eligibility factors in play. So, research them before you go for a claim.

Disclosing Medical Marijuana Use

On the one hand, there are so many benefits of marijuana on health. For example, studies have proven that it can work as an excellent medication for people with anxiety, Parkinson’s disease, or chronic seizures. However, on the other hand, their usage also has negative effects on the body, hence why they are illegal in many places in the first place.

The factors you need to remember before disclosing your medical marijuana use to SSA are-

  • First of all, your state must approve medical marijuana use. If it doesn’t, then your private physician will also be unlikely to prescribe any form of cannabis content. Hence, SSA is most likely to reject the claim here.
  • If your state allows medical marijuana usage but not recreational, you have to use them accordingly. Using them like the latter here may lead SSA to deny the claim.
  • Even if your state allows the recreational use of marijuana, SSA may still raise suspicion on you. So, if you are doing so, it is better not to disclose it to SSA. Meanwhile, SSA looks into these matters so much before approving any claim.

So, if they find out that your weed use was the cause of your condition’s development or worsening, or if it led to any injury, then they may take that as a negative point. It can decrease your chances of getting a granted claim.

  • Many psychiatrists and experts believe that taking marijuana or other drugs can have adverse effects on the emotional and mental state. They may work as temporary relief to conditions like anxiety or depression. But in turn, the disabilities and illnesses keep worsening or quickening.

So, if you have one of these conditions, it is better not to disclose your medical marijuana use to SSA. There will be many psychiatric providers present at the disability hearing, and many of them may testify against your claim.

What to Do Before Disclosing Your Medical Marijuana Use?

  • If you do want to disclose your medical cannabis use to the SSA, make sure to provide evidence of its effects on your condition’s improvements. Your method of consumption and strains must also not have much of a side effect.
  • Finally, you should consider hiring an attorney or claimant agent who may help your case get the approval you desire. Go for a lawyer experienced with SSA matters, and explain your situation to them thoroughly without hiding anything before the hearings.

Even if you are abiding by the rules of your state perfectly and only taking medical marijuana for the improvement of your disability as per your doctor’s suggestion, SSA may still be skeptical about it. So, an attorney can assist greatly in this case.

Alternatives to Medical Marijuana

You should already know the risk it brings to disclosing your medical marijuana use to the SSA if you have followed along so far. The good news is that there are other options you can try as alternatives. Moreover, you may also don’t like smoking cannabis illegally overall. In that case, you can try the following-

  • FDA-Approved THC Products: Remember when we said that some forms of cannabis are legal by FDA? Well, some of them are THC, like Syndros and Marinol.
  • Cedamet: Like Syndros and Marinol, Cedamet is a nabilone that FDA allows. Additionally, they also approve dronabinol. So, you can use these.
  • CBD products: There are many CBD products that even federal laws allow. One of them is the Epidiolex. The usage of such CBD is also approved for non-medical use.
  • Delta-8 THC: Even in many places where any form of marijuana use, cultivation, and possession is prohibited, delta-8 THC is allowed there.
  • K2 or Spice: There are many synthetic cannabinoids, like Spice or K2, that you can try as alternatives to natural cannabis.
  • Oils: Many states do not prohibit the usage of marijuana oil or edibles. So, you may opt for them instead of smoking or vaping.
should i tell ssa disability i use medical marijuana

FAQ

Can Florida Medical Marijuana Patients Grow?

Whether you are growing as a medical patient or a healthy individual, growing weed in Florida is illegal. You may face penalties based on the number of plants. The only way people can grow cannabis in Florida is with a license and certifications. There are many marijuana-growing jobs in this state, too.

What Are the Cons of Having a Medical Marijuana Card in Florida?

There are a few cons of owning a medical marijuana card in Florida. Some of them are-

  • The entire process of gaining a marijuana card in Florida is complex which includes the application, consultation, and timely renewal fees.
  • If you possess over 4 oz of cannabis or don’t have the card with you while owning less than 4 oz, you may face penalties such as fines or questioning.
  • If you have a medical marijuana card in Florida, you may fail to get a commercial driver’s license and purchase or possess a firearm (even with a gun permit). The latter is because of safety, while the former is because the Department of Transportation forbids it.

Is It Worth It to Get a Medical Marijuana Card in Arizona?

Arizona approves both the recreational and medical use of marijuana. However, having a medical marijuana card grants an individual many benefits over a recreational user. Some are as follows-

  • A marijuana card owner may possess 2.5 oz of usable medical weed content. Meanwhile, other adults can only keep only 1 oz at max.
  • While recreational weed users have to pay at least 21.6% in taxes, the amount for medical marijuana card possessors is only 8 to 10%.
  • Finally, a marijuana patient with a card may grow 12 mature plants within 25 miles of the closest legal dispensary. In contrast, others can only cultivate six mature cannabis plants in every household at max.

Conclusion

Usage of medical marijuana is always negative information to the SSA. So, before disclosing anything, ensure you are using them legally first. Even then, you may need to hire an attorney. It is so because SSA investigates your conditions and situation thoroughly. And if they find any adverse effect of weed on your disability or life, they may reject your claim for disability benefits.

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Nazmul Nahid

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