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If I Have HIV, Can I Qualify for Social Security Disability Benefits?

 Posted on January 23, 2023 in Social Security Disability

Illinois Social Security Disability Attorney for HIV

HIV, or Human Immunodeficiency Virus, is a virus that attacks the body’s immune system, and an HIV infection can lead to Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS). While HIV infections are incurable, in recent years, advancements in medicine have made it possible for many people with HIV to live longer, healthier lives. However, people living with HIV may still experience complications that affect their ability to maintain gainful employment, and they may qualify for Social Security disability benefits if they meet certain criteria.

What Are the Criteria for Qualifying for Social Security Disability Benefits?

In order to qualify for Social Security disability benefits, a person will generally need to show that they have a disabling condition that is expected to last 12 months or more or result in death. The condition must be severe enough that it limits the person's ability to work and earn sufficient income to provide for their needs. In some cases, a person may be able to show that they meet specific criteria associated with their condition that prove that they are disabled.

In cases involving HIV infections, the criteria include documentation of an HIV infection. An applicant may be able to provide laboratory test results such as an HIV antibody screening test, an HIV nucleic acid detection test, an HIV p24 antigen test, or other highly specific tests meant to detect HIV infections. If these types of test results are not available, other documentation may be provided, including reports from a doctor stating that an HIV diagnosis was confirmed through laboratory tests or a medical history of conditions associated with HIV, such as toxoplasmosis of the brain.

A person will usually also need to show that they have been diagnosed with one or more disorders that are commonly associated with HIV infections, which may include:

  • Multicentric Castleman disease (MCD) - This cancer-like condition affects the lymph nodes, and a person may be considered disabled if multiple groups of lymph nodes or multiple organs containing lymphoid tissue are affected.

  • Primary central nervous system lymphoma (PCNSL) - This form of cancer may affect tissues in the brain, spinal cord, or eyes.

  • Primary effusion lymphoma (PEL) - This cancer may affect tissues in different body cavities, as well as multiple internal organs.

  • Pulmonary Kaposi sarcoma - This form of cancer may cause tumors to form in the lungs.

  • Progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML) - This degenerative syndrome may affect the neurological system, and it may result in a lack of bodily coordination, impairments to vision and speech, weakness of the muscles, and cognitive or personality changes.

  • Low white blood cell counts - A measurement of CD4 cells must show an absolute CD4 count of 50 or fewer cells per cubic millimeter. If a person has a body mass index of less than 18.5 or a hemoglobin measurement under 8 grams per deciliter, they may be considered disabled if they have an absolute CD4 count of fewer than 200 cells per cubic millimeter or a CD4 percentage that is below 14 percent.

A person may also be considered disabled if they were hospitalized in relation to HIV complications at least three times within a 12-month period or if the manifestation of HIV infections has resulted in a marked limitation on daily activities, social functions, or their ability to maintain concentration, persistence, and pace while at work.

Contact Our Illinois Social Security Disability Attorney for HIV

Living with HIV can be difficult, but thanks to advancements in medicine, there is hope that those who are afflicted can live longer and healthier lives than ever before. If you believe that your condition qualifies you for Social Security disability benefits due to its severity, then it is important to understand the qualifications that you will need to meet and the steps you will need to take when applying for benefits. At Pearson Disability Law, LLC, our Chicago Social Security disability application lawyer can provide guidance during the application process, ensuring that you provide the necessary documentation to show that you qualify for benefits. Contact us at 312-999-0999 to arrange a free consultation.



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