Switzerland’s highest court has decided to extend in principle the right to disability insurance benefits to people with drug addiction.
With the decision by the Federal Court, people with drug dependencies who have been evaluated and diagnosed by a medical specialist can access disability insurance benefits. This in effect treats drug addiction in the same vein as a mental illness.
According to the court, the ruling, which was announced on Monday, was based on a thorough review of existing medical knowledge.
This reverses previous case law that viewed drug addiction as the individual’s responsibility and treatable through drug withdrawal. Up to now, individuals with drug addiction could only receive disability benefits if the addiction caused an illness or accident or if the dependency was the result of an illness.
As is the case with many other mental disorders, determining whether the person can receive disability benefits is based on a structured evaluation of whether the person can, despite the condition diagnosed medically, pursue suitable productive activity on a full-time or part-time basis.
In order to receive benefits, the person must pursue mitigation measures such as reasonable medical treatment. If the person refuses, benefits can be revoked.
The case that served as the basis for the decision was an appeal received by the court by a man dependent on benzodiazepines and opioids who had unsuccessfully applied for disability insurance. The judges concluded that the psychiatric expertise carried out on the person concerned, resulted in incapacity for work due to drug addiction.