What Impact Will the Legalization of Recreational Marijuana in Colorado Have on My Disability Claim?

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The legalization of marijuana in Colorado will have little, if any, impact on the disposition of a Social Security Disability claim. First, marijuana continues to be an illegal substance under Federal law, and of course, the Social Security program is a federally funded program. Second, if a claimant is dependent on or addicted to marijuana and the use of marijuana is substantially material to the disability, the claim can be denied. This remains true regardless of marijuana’s legal status. More often than not, the relevance of a claimant’s marijuana use surrounds an Administrative Law Judge’s (ALJ) credibility determination. If a claimant denies using marijuana when there is ample evidence in the file to the contrary, an ALJ is likely to find that the claimant’s testimony at a hearing is not credible and deny the claim. Again, this is true regardless of whether or not the use of marijuana is legal in Colorado.

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