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Report: 40 percent of SSDI recipients use opioids

On this blog, we often describe the challenges that people face when they are applying for disability benefits. Applicants often have to worry about paperwork, medical bills, court hearings and extensive time delays that can cause considerable anxiety. But after all is said and done, being approved for SSDI can resolve a number of issues.

Unfortunately, the challenges that disabled workers face can continue. Getting financial support for a disabling condition may be able to provide economic relief, but recipients of SSDI may be dealing with a unique obstacle as a result of their illness or injury: prescription drug addiction.

A recent report suggests that roughly 40 percent of people receiving SSDI benefits are prescribed opioid pain medicine. Drugs like oxycodone, hydrocodone and morphine are routinely prescribed to patients struggling conditions like fibromyalgia, joint pain and injuries suffered in a serious accident.

However, there is evidence to suggest that prescription opioids are not necessarily effective in treating the injury or illness. In fact, these medications could be detrimental to a person's health. 

People who are prescribed opioid pain medications are at risk of developing dependency, which means that they may stay on the meds for longer than they need, and take them more and more often. Chronic use can also lead to depression, which can make matters even worse.

All these risks are very real for people who already have such a disabling condition that they have qualified for and receive SSDI benefits. The potential remedies for these risks include frequent monitoring by a medical professional, referrals to pain specialists and addiction services. However, this raises the number of medical and financial obligations on a patient, so it can be even more crucial that a person is receiving the full amount of financial support for which they are eligible.

Source: National Pain Report, "Over 40% of Disabled Americans on Pain Meds," Pat Anson, Aug .15, 2014

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