Can I Receive Social Security Disability Benefits if I’ve been diagnosed with HIV or AIDS?

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Perhaps it was a single mistake that caused the HIV virus to be introduced into your system. Or maybe it was just simply bad luck, but you ended up being infected with a serious disease that can cause major medical complications or result in death. Even despite having this disease you worked for years until the symptoms and effects of the condition became too much to bear. Then, it was with regret that you ceased your employment duties and began to focus on your own health and coping with your serious condition.

For many individuals with a severe disability, impairment, or disease the decision to stop working can be a difficult one. This is often due to the fact that the individual is worried about how he or she will pay the bills and survive. Luckily there is some support available from the federal government through the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) programs. While the program requirements for eligibility differs between the two programs, the medical grounds for eligibility are similar. An experienced Social Security Disability attorney can guide your benefits claim through each and every step of the process.

HIV is a Severe Condition Listed by the Social Security Administration

The Social Security Administration lists a number of conditions that the agency considers to be so severe that those suffering from the disease or impairment can qualify for disability benefits at Step 3 of the normally 5-step sequential process. However, to qualify under Listing 14.08 the claimant must be able to present medical evidence that documents the HIV or AIDS infection. Medical documentation can include laboratory tests and other medical evidence that was collected with methods that are consistent with currently accepted medical practice. Additionally, the applicant must present a definitive documentation of an HIV infection. This can be shown through an HIV antibody test, a positive viral load test, polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test, a specimen that returns positive for HIV antigen, a positive PBMC viral culture, and any other scientifically accepted tests.

Beyond the documentation described in part 14.00F of the of the Listing, the benefits applicant must also show the presence of one of the following: certain types of recurrent bacterial infections, types of fungal infections & recurrent infections, protozoan infections, viral infections, the development of malignant neoplasms. Furthermore the claimant could demonstrate that he or she is suffering from wasting syndrome, persistent diarrhea that does not respond to treatment, and a number of other infections including sepsis, meningitis, and endocarditis.

Disability Benefits can also be Awarded through a Medical Vocational Allowance

Even if your HIV or AIDs condition cannot meet or equal the Listing, you may still qualify for benefits through a medical vocational allowance. A medical vocational allowance is available when a benefits applicant has a severe impairment or condition or multiple impairments that result in severe cumulative effects. Furthermore, there must not be work available for the applicant to perform. This inquiry is performed by first computing the individual’s RFC, the things that he or she can still do despite the impairments. That RFC is then considered in light of the applicant’s past work and the work that is available in the national economy. Older workers will have their age and educational background taken into account if retraining would be necessary. If there is no past work or alternate work available for the benefits applicant, he or she will qualify for benefits.

Our Disability Lawyers may be Able to Help in Arkansas

If you are suffering from a severe disease or impairment like HIV or AIDS, Social Security benefits may be available. However, rejections are extremely common and especially so at the lower levels of consideration and reconsideration. Working with an experienced Social Security lawyer can increase the likelihood that your claim will be accepted earlier in the process. And since appeals are sometimes necessary, working with an SSD lawyer from the outset will mean that your attorney is already familiar with your case.  To schedule a free and confidential Social Security Disability benefits consultation, call (479) 251-7767 today or contact our firm online.

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