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Can You Collect VA Benefits for Alcoholism?

In limited cases, veterans may be able to apply for veterans’ benefits for alcoholism. For benefits purposes, the VA defines alcohol abuse as “the use of alcoholic beverages over time, or such excessive use at any one time, sufficient to cause disability or death of the use.” Qualifying for benefits is complicated, and disability ratings are only awarded in limited situations. To learn more about qualifying for VA benefits due to alcoholism in Florida, you need to speak with an experienced Orlando veterans’ disability lawyer.

At the Law Offices of Shea A. Fugate, P.A., we have years of experience helping veterans get the disability-related benefits they deserve. It’s important to understand that veterans cannot receive benefits for directly service-connected alcoholism, only service-connected on a secondary basis for conditions that arise from their alcoholism. Provided the alcoholism was not due to your “willful misconduct,” there is a chance you could receive a disability rating for alcohol-related conditions.

What is Alcoholism?

Alcoholism, or alcohol use disorder, is a repetitive pattern of using alcohol that creates problems that can affect a person’s ability to function. These problems can include controlling drinking, using alcohol even when it causes issues, being preoccupied with alcohol, needing to drink more to achieve the same effect, and experiencing withdrawal symptoms when decreasing or stopping drinking.

Binge drinking is also a sign of alcoholism, which is a pattern of drinking in excess in a short amount of time. Symptoms of alcoholism include:

  • The inability to cut down how much alcohol you consume;
  • Wanting to reduce alcohol consumption but unable to do so;
  • Not meeting significant obligations at school, work, or home due to alcohol use;
  • Spending a lot of your time getting alcohol, drinking, or recovering from drinking;
  • Continuing to drink in situations where it’s unsafe, driving, boating, swimming, etc.;
  • Repeated feelings of strong urges or cravings to drink;
  • Reducing or giving up hobbies and social activities;
  • Continuing to drink even though you are aware that it’s causing social, physical, or interpersonal problems;
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms, such as nausea, shaking, sweating, when you don’t have a drink, or you need to drink to avoid these symptoms; or
  • Developing an increased tolerance for alcohol, so you need to keep drinking more in order to feel its effect, or you experience a reduced effect from the same amount of alcohol.

When Does the VA Grant Disability Benefits for Alcoholism?

As previously mentioned, alcoholism itself is not a service-connected disability. But when another disorder accompanies substance abuse, it may be enough to find a disability. The VA will assess whether the condition would still exist if the veteran quits drinking. One example where the VA might consider granting a disability rating is when you have service-connected PTSD and use alcohol to cope with the trauma. With prolonged alcohol use, the veteran may develop cirrhosis of the liver as well. The alcohol use might be a connection and in-between step between their service-connected PTSD and the new condition of cirrhosis.

Contact an Orlando Veterans’ Disability Lawyer

If you have questions about obtaining alcoholism and veterans’ disability benefits, let our Orlando veterans’ disability lawyers help. Contact the Law Offices of Shea A. Fugate, P.A., today to schedule an initial consultation.


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