A federal judge in Buffalo has denied a man disability insurance benefits after finding that the physical and mental issues that have prevented him from working would largely be alleviated if he stopped abusing alcohol and opiates. Western District Judge Richard J. Arcara said that Charles L. Cutler has not met his burden of disproving that he has an ongoing addiction, even though Mr. Cutler contends he last used drugs in 2002 and stopped drinking in 2006. “[S]ubstantial evidence supports the ALJ’s finding that the plaintiff still suffers from opiate and alcohol addictions, leading to an inference that the plaintiff’s mental impairments, independent of the drug and alcohol abuse, are not as severe as alleged,” Judge Arcara wrote in Cutler v. Astrue, 10-cv-663A.

The court also accepted the administrative law judge’s conclusion that Mr. Cutler, who has not worked since 2005 and complains of depression, panic disorder, rotator cuff tear, heel bursitis and plantar fasciitis, would be able to carry light weights, sit for two hours and stand or walk for six to eight hours a day if he stopped using substances.