Disability: HIV and AIDS
If you are HIV-positive, or if HIV has progressed to AIDS, you may be able to qualify for Social Security disability benefits.
How to Get Disability for HIV/AIDS
Applying for Social Security disability benefits for HIV/AIDS can be a difficult process. The first step is to consult with a Social Security disability lawyer for AIDS — one who is familiar with the unique circumstances that may exist in your case, such as Lisa M. Ritacco. Your lawyer can advise you of the types of documentation you’ll need to make your case, as well as how to obtain this documentation.
Once you have this information in hand, you are ready to apply for HIV or AIDS disability benefits. It’s important to understand, however, that the presence of the virus does not automatically qualify you for benefits. You must be able to prove that you have functional limitations preventing you from being able to work.
Qualifying for Disability Benefits for HIV and AIDS
To qualify for disability benefits for Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) or Autoimmune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS), you must be able to show your condition has progressed to the point where it impacts your immune function and your ability to work and even perform everyday tasks. For this reason, some patients will not qualify for benefits with HIV or AIDS until their condition progresses.
To qualify for benefits, you must be able to prove, through medical testing, that you have HIV or AIDS. You must also be able to show you have been affected to such a degree that your ability to earn income is affected.
The Blue Book listing for HIV/AIDS requires that you show either functional impairment or proof of:
- Bacterial infection (such as leprosy, tuberculosis, Nocardiosis and other infections, which require IV antibiotics and hospital stays at least three times a year)
- Viral infection (including herpes, shingles, PML and others, which meet the severity requirements)
- Fungal infection (including yeast infections, Aspergillosis, Coccidioidomycosis, Cryptococcosis, Histoplasmosis, Mucormycosis, Pneumonia and others)
- Protozoan infection (including Strongyloidiasis outside the intestines, Toxoplasmosis and parasites in the intestines causing at least one month of diarrhea)
- HIV encephalopathy, leading to swelling of the brain and impairments
- HIV wasting syndrome showing at least twice-daily diarrhea for a month or more and 10% body weight loss
You may also meet Blue Book listing requirements if you have very severe diarrhea requiring treatment or if you have some types of infections (including sepsis, septic arthritis, endocarditis, sinusitis, meningitis and pneumonia) which require hospitalization at least three times over the course of a year and do not respond to treatments.
Since Blue Book listings are complex and since proving impairment can be a challenge, contact an HIV/AIDS disability lawyer by contacting the law office of Lisa M. Ritacco.
Criteria for Social Security Disability Benefits for AIDS
Generally speaking, it is easier to qualify for AIDS disability benefits than it is to qualify for benefits in the early stages of HIV. The reason for this is that it can often take years for severe or debilitating symptoms to manifest after contracting the virus. However, once HIV progresses to AIDS, symptoms tend to be more severe and frequent.
The Social Security Administration grants AIDS disability benefits based on the degree of limitation the disease causes — not on the diagnosis itself. Social Security disability benefits for AIDS may be granted if:
- You are experiencing frequent and/or severe recurring infections, whether they are bacterial, viral, fungal, parasitic, or other.
- You have HIV wasting syndrome, which includes severe weight loss due to malnutrition and diarrhea, often accompanied by a fever.
- You have developed chronic respiratory conditions as a result of ongoing and/or recurring infections.
These criteria, combined with documentation of a positive HIV or AIDS diagnosis, will help the SSA determine whether or not you are reasonably able to work. Your disability lawyer for AIDS can help you understand the complex criteria the SSA uses when determining eligibility, and what you can do to strengthen your case.
If your infections are severe according to the SSA regulations, or if you have another medical condition, such as cancer, in addition to HIV or AIDS, you may automatically qualify for AIDS disability benefits. If not, the SSA will consider the symptoms you do have, how often and severe they are, and how they impact your daily activities, social function, and your ability to stay on top of and complete tasks.
Denied disability for HIV or AIDS?
It is not uncommon to be denied disability if you have HIV/AIDS. You may have been denied disability benefits because your application did not provide strong enough medical evidence or because the SSA deems your condition to not be so advanced that it is considered an impairment.
You must be able to provide medical evidence of your diagnosis, such as an HIV antibody test, HIV DNA detection, a positive viral load test or other recognized laboratory tests.
In addition, you must be able to provide medical evidence of opportunistic infections and their severity. If you have cancer, you must have medical proof in the form of a biopsy or other tests and your doctor should link the diagnosis to your HIV/AIDS condition. In addition, you must be able to prove the severity of the opportunistic infections.
If you have diarrhea, for example, you must be able to show you have been in the hospital at least three times over the past year and that the condition and you must be able to show any functional impairment the condition caused. Being able to prove hospital stays and detail treatment attempts can be useful in this regard.
If you have been denied disability for HIV/AIDS, contact the law office of Lisa M. Ritacco. Lisa M. Ritacco focuses exclusively on disability benefits cases and has more than seven years of experience helping people strengthen their claims and apply for benefits.
It’s important not to get discouraged if your claim is initially denied. Your Social Securiyt disability lawyer for AIDS can help you file an appeal in which the details of your case will be heard and considered. Contact the law office of Lisa M. Ritacco today if you need an SSDI lawyer with AIDS disability experience.