HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) is a virus that attacks the body’s immune system. If HIV is not treated, it can lead to AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome). Unfortunately, there is no cure for HIV. Once someone has the virus, they have it for life. However, with proper medical treatment, it can be controlled, and many people live long, health lives. There are three stages of HIV progression if left untreated:
- Stage 1: Acute HIV Infection - Flu-like symptoms, highly contagious.
- Stage 2: Chronic HIV Infection - Asymptomatic, transmissible, and can be in this period for decades.
- Stage 3: AIDS - Immune system is badly damaged, increased severe illness, terminal.
Social Security Benefits for AIDS Patients
Social Security disability benefits are available to those with AIDS or are HIV positive. But, just having the diagnosis is not enough. The individual must show that their symptoms limit their ability to work. As mentioned above, some people with HIV remain free of symptoms for years and manage the virus with medication. In these cases, the Social Security Administration will not approve benefits.
Once an HIV infection has defeated the immune system enough, the body becomes a host for opportunistic illnesses. A claimant who has reached this point is typically in Stage 3 and has been diagnosed with AIDS. At this point, the person likely has problems that prevent them from working.
It's Still Possible to Receive Benefits for an HIV-Positive Diagnosis
Without the full-blown AIDS diagnosis, the claimant will have to meet the SSA’s listing for HIV. To meet the criteria, the claimant must present the following evidence:
1. Medical evidence including highly specific laboratory testing including:
- HIV antibody tests
- HIV DNA or RNA detection test
- HIV p24 antigen test
- Isolation of HIV in viral culture
2. Infection, disease, or complications of HIV with medical documentation to include at least one of the following:
- Frequent or persistent bacterial, fungal, viral, or parasitic infection,
- Cancer that is advanced or terminal,
- Fluid on the brain or swelling of the brain that causes severe disruption in ability to work or move,
- Severe weight loss,
- Uncontrolled and persistent diarrhea requiring IV fluids or feeding tube,
- Infection that requires hospitalization, IV therapy, or is resistant to treatment,
- Frequency of infection that severely compromises daily living.
3. Proof of functional limitation.
Our Social Security Lawyers Can Help You Get the Benefits You Need
Getting approved for disability benefits for HIV or AIDS requires a lot of documentation and medical evidence. Keller & Keller is one of Indiana’s most recognized full-service social security disability firms. With over 80 years of experience, Keller & Keller’s Social Security attorneys have successfully represented many claimants seeking disability for HIV and AIDS. We are prepared to fight for you. Contact us today for a free consultation.