It was not so very long ago that a diagnosis of HIV+ was a literal death sentence. But with the advances in treatment over the past few decades, HIV+ patients are now able to manage their disease, much like diabetics do.
So, what does that entail for those HIV/AIDS sufferers who apply for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits? Can they still qualify for financial aid through Social Security Disability (SSD) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI)?
Eligibility is determined by medical need
Because not everyone who is living with a diagnosis of HIV/AIDS will have the same symptoms or experience the same limitations, these determinations are made on a case-by-case basis. For instance, a young man who is recently diagnosed as HIV+ but who has no other symptoms of the disease can likely continue to work and earn as he did before.
But an older man who has had the disease for decades and who also suffers from other co-morbidities might discover that he is far too ill to do any work. So, while the two men have the same diagnosis, the course and trajectory of the disease can be very different in the patients.
Should you file for SSD or SSI benefits?
If you can’t work because of your condition, you should go ahead and file. Both SSD and SSI have the same medical requirements. However, SSI benefits also have a financial qualifier, which means that your income and resources will factor into your eligibility. Make sure that you provide the names and contact information of the doctors who have the most recent and most complete records of your condition.
Your condition could wax and wane
Dependent on many different factors, your HIV/AIDS status could improve or worsen over time. There could perhaps be new therapies offered that could bring you back from the brink of death. It is possible to initially qualify for some benefits and later become ineligible, and vice versa.
Seek legal assistance in your quest for benefits
The process for approval of your case for Social Security Disability benefits can be fraught with frustration. It is common for people to initially be turned down and then win later on appeal. Some applicants find it is much easier to let an experienced SSD attorney handle their application and any subsequent appeals.