Press release: Social security disability benefits

For Immediate Release

August 26, 2019 Media Contact: Sybil Miller

C: (585) 705-6477

O: (404) 505-7777

The ABC’s of Qualifying for Social Security Disability with HIV or AIDS

If you have been diagnosed with HIV or AIDS and your condition has made left you unable to work, you might be eligible to receive monthly disability benefits through the Social Security Administration (SSA). The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) report that 1.1 million Americans have HIV. There are advanced treatments that help those who are suffering with the disease control their symptoms and complications. However, if the disease has progressed to AIDS or if your HIV has advanced, it might be disabling. Even the most effective treatments can cause debilitating side effects such as anemia, fatigue, nausea, sleep disturbances, and nerve complications.

Medically Qualifying for Disability with HIV or AIDS

The SSA uses a medical guide, which is called the Blue Book, to determine if someone's medical condition meets the requirements of a condition listed in the book in order to be determined disabled. HIV is a viral infection that causes the immune system to be compromised. It would fall under the Immune System Disorders section of the Blue Book. Because the Blue Book was written for physicians and those who have knowledge in medical terminology, you should ask your doctor to help you with your understanding of the qualification requirements.

According to the Blue Book criteria, your medical records must show evidence of one of these symptoms:

Severe weight loss, known as HIV-wasting syndrome.

Other infections, such as encephalitis, sinusitis, sepsis, or something similar that are resistant to treatment, require hospitalization or IV therapy.

Your activities of daily living (ADLs) are severely impacted.

You suffer from persistent, uncontrolled diarrhea that has require you to have nutrition by a feed tube or IV fluids for a month or longer.

You experienced frequent fungal, viral, bacterial, or parasitic infections.

You have developed cancer that is either terminal or advanced.

Your brain is collecting fluid or your brain is swelling, which causes serious disruptions in your ability to move effectively or think.

If you cannot closely meet one of these criteria, you will have to proceed with your claim through additional reviews in an effort to show your disability.

Other Things to Consider

In order to prove your condition's severity, you have to be able to provide thorough medical records, have a supportive doctor that is ready to issue a strong summary statement in support of your disability claim, and be able to complete "Residual Functional Capacity" that make a convincing argument that you are indeed disabled even if you don't meet the Blue Book criteria.

Ready to Apply?

If you are ready to apply for disability benefits because of your HIV or AIDS diagnosis, you can start your application online at the SSA’s website or by calling 1-800-772-1213, or by visiting your local SSA office and starting your application in person. The approval process can take several months, and you must be able to show the severity of your condition by providing test results and detailed medical records supportive of your disability benefits claim. If your claim is denied, you can file an appeal and request a review. Your claim can proceed all the way to the hearing level where an administrative law judge will decide if you do meet the qualifications to receive benefits.

Resources Found Via:

SisterLove, Inc., is the oldest women-centered HIV and sexual & reproductive health organization in the Southeastern United States. It was founded in 1989 to address HIV-related education, prevention and research, and to support the rights of reproductive justice for all women and girls. SisterLove’s mission is to eradicate the impact of HIV and other sexual and reproductive oppressions on all women and their communities in the US and globally. SisterLove, Inc. is headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia with a satellite office in Johannesburg, South Africa.

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