When an individual receives a diagnosis of HIV, the experience can be traumatic and overwhelming. While many advancements have been made in treating the illness and prolonging life-expectancy, a diagnosis of HIV is still a life-changing event. While some of the people who are diagnosed with HIV are able to live relatively normal lives in the early stages of the disease, many of those living with the condition are unable to work due to the limitations that the disease places on them. If you have been unable to maintain employment due to an HIV infection, the following information will explain how the Social Security Administration reviews Social Security Disability claims that are based on this diagnosis and how you can increase your chances of qualifying for Social Security Disability benefits during the initial stage of the application process.
Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) Infection Condition and Symptoms
Human immunodeficiency virus, also known as HIV, is a disabling condition that weakens the body's immune system. The virus goes to work by killing off the healthy cells that are needed for proper immune function. While HIV itself cannot kill a person, the resulting lack of immunity can.
HIV is unlike most other viruses in that the body cannot seem to kill the virus once it has been infected. For example, when an individual comes down with the common cold, the body can usually fight off the virus that is causing the cold and defend the body effectively. However, with HIV, the body cannot fight off the virus and the condition progressively becomes worse.
In the beginning stages, a person might not even know that they have been infected by HIV. This is due to the fact that the HIV cells can lay dormant in the body's healthy cells. The body will then begin to attack your T-cells or CDR cells, which are usually used to fight off infection and disease. HIV will then begin to invade these disease-fighting cells and uses them to make more copies of itself.
Eventually, the HIV virus will destroy so many of the body's immune cells that the body will no longer be able to fight infection or disease. When this happens, HIV can lead to a condition know as AIDS. Unfortunately, there is no cure for HIV, but there are treatments that can help slow the progression of the disease and prevent it from developing into the AIDS disease.
Filing for Social Security Disability with Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) Infection
Individuals who are suffering from HIV are often relieved to discover that the condition is included in the Social Security Administration's Blue Book of Medical Listings under Section 14.08. According to the published guidelines, a Social Security Disability applicant can qualify for disability benefits if they can provide medical evidence of the HIV infection through appropriate laboratory evidence, such as HIV antibody tests, positive viral load tests or positive viral culture tests. The applicant must also suffer from mycobacterial infection at a site other than the lungs, skin, cervical or hilar lymph nodes; pulmonary tuberculosis that is resistant to treatment or salmonella bacterial infection that is recurrent; and non-typhoid or multiple or recurrent bacterial infections including pelvic inflammatory disease that requires hospitalization or intravenous antibiotic treatments three or more times during a twelve-month period.
Section 14.08 goes on to state that an individual may also qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income if they suffer from certain fungal infections, such as aspergillosis or candidiasis involving the esophagus, trachea, bronchi, or lungs, or at a site other than the skin, urinary tract, intestinal tract, or oral or vulvovaginal mucous membranes. Protozoan or helminthic infections may also qualify a disability applicant if those infections involve: protozoan or helminthic infections, strongyloidiasis infections, cryptosporidosis, isoporiasis or microsporidiosis with diarrhea that lasts for one month or longer or toxoplasmosis of an organ other than the liver, spleen or lymph nodes.
Certain viral infections may also qualify a Social Security Disability applicant, such as those suffering from cytomegalovirus disease, herpes simplex, mucocutaneous infection or herpes zoster. Other conditions that may qualify a disability applicant that has been diagnosed with HIV include malignant neoplasms, conditions of the skin or mucous membranes with extensive fungating or ulcerating lesions not responding to treatment, HIV encephalopathy characterized by cognitive or motor dysfunction that limits function and progresses, HIV wasting syndrome, diarrhea, lasting for one month or longer, sepsis, meningitis, pneumonia, septic arthritis or endocarditis.
There are other published criteria that can qualify a Social Security Disability applicant who has been diagnosed with HIV as well. Because of this, when you apply for Social Security Disability benefits it is crucial that you provide as much medical documentation as possible along with your disability claim. The diagnosis and test results may not be enough. Be sure to provide the SSA with complete copies of your entire medical history in order to increase your chances of a hassle-free approval of your Social Security Disability benefits.
Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) Infection and Your Social Security Disability Case
Because there are many symptoms and secondary infections that would qualify a Social Security Disability applicant for benefits under Section 14.08, it is likely that you will be awarded disability benefits during the initial stage of the application process. The SSA has been known, however, to deny HIV disability claims on occasion. If yours is one of the claims that is denied, you should consider retaining the services of a qualified Social Security Disability attorney or advocate as soon as possible in order to appeal this decision.
When you work with an advocate or attorney who is skilled in pursuing disability cases, they will review all of your medical evidence to determine why your initial claim for benefits was rejected by the Social Security Administration. The professional you hire will then begin working to obtain additional evidence in order to prove your disability to the Social Security Administration. Statistics show that applicants who work with a disability attorney or advocate during a disability appeal are more likely to be awarded benefits than those who try to represent themselves.
To learn more about filing for SSD benefits with a case of HIV or to learn more about working with a Social Security Disability lawyer, simply fill out the form for a free evaluation of your disability case.