Social Security does not consider alcoholism in itself a disability. However, alcohol consumed in large amounts over a long period of time, can affect the body in a number of negative ways and lead to conditions that Social Security recognizes as disabling.
One of these conditions is chronic liver disease, which includes fibrosis of the liver and cirrhosis of the liver. According to Johns Hopkins, cirrhosis is linked to alcohol and is considered No. 12 in the leading causes of death within the United States. People who are suffering from this disease may exhibit signs that include vomiting of blood, weakness, kidney failure, poor appetite, curing of fingers and portal hypertension. There is no cure for the disease but people may be able to stop further damage of the organ by adhering to a strict diet and through taking recommended supplements.
Wernicke encephalopathy is another condition that may leave someone disabled. This syndrome, which also often develops into Korsakoff syndrome, is caused when the brain does not receive the Vitamin B1 that it needs. According to the National Institute of Health, the condition is often connected to alcoholism although there are other contributing factors. When someone is diagnosed with Wernicke encephalopathy, that person may struggle with vision problems, loss of muscle coordination, and loss of mental activity and confusion.
Those who suffer with Korsakoff syndrome may make up their own stories, experience severe to moderate memory loss, exhibit hallucinations, and lose the ability to create new memories. While some symptoms can be controlled, the loss of memory cannot usually be undone. The syndrome can lead to death if it is not treated promptly, and treatment usually involves injections of the B1 vitamin as well as hospital monitoring if the condition has left people lethargic, comatose or unconscious.
The use of alcohol can also aggravate someone's clinical depression and lead to anxiety which can trigger an anxiety disorder. These two conditions can leave people disabled and may be eligible for disability benefits.