Can I Qualify for Disability Benefits with HIV or AIDS in Pennsylvania?

The Census Bureau reports that roughly 19% of all Americans, or about 57 million people, live with some form of disability.  While some can manage their conditions with medication or other regimens, others have an illness or injury which is so severe that it interferes with their ability to work and generate an income.  If you cannot work due to HIV or AIDS, you may be able to qualify for monthly benefits from the Social Security Administration, or SSA.  These benefits can help cover your bills, groceries, and other important daily expenses.

How to Get Approved for Disability in Pennsylvania

The Social Security Administration is constantly bombarded with millions upon millions of claims.  In order to help cut down on fraud and wasteful spending, the SSA implements very strict and rigorous requirements for disability candidates.  If you want your claim to be approved, your condition will need to pass these requirements — first on the general level, and then on the illness-specific level.

Regardless of the injury or disease involved, the two basic blanket requirements are that your medical issue:

  1. Has lasted or will last for a minimum of 12 months.
  2. Is not mild, but severe, meaning it prevents you from working in either your old job or in some new, alternative capacity.

Furthermore, your monthly income should not exceed:

  • $721 per month for SSI applicants.
  • $1,070 per month for SSDI applicants.

From this starting point, you will then also need to meet the more specialized “Blue Book” requirements which are unique to your condition.  (For example, a claimant citing diabetes will be evaluated under very different guidelines from a claimant citing heart failure.)

How are HIV and AIDS evaluated by the SSA?  What specifications will you need to meet in order to be considered disabled and eligible for benefits?


How to Qualify for Disability with HIV/AIDS

The “Blue Book” is formally known as the Listing of Impairments.  In a nutshell, the Listing is a large catalog of medical issues which the SSA will consider for benefits.  However, the Listing is not merely a list of diseases.  More importantly, it also lays out very detailed guidelines for how each disability is weighed.  Simply having a given condition is not “enough” — it must also meet the requirements for establishing severity.

HIV and AIDS are covered under Section 14.00 of the Listing, titled Immune System Disorders.  To quote 14.00F:

“Any individual with HIV infection, including one with a diagnosis of acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS), may be found disabled under 14.08 if his or her impairment meets the criteria in that listing or is medically equivalent to the criteria in that listing.”

So what are the criteria contained in 14.08?  In order to establish severe disability due to HIV or AIDS, the claimant will need to display at least one of any of the following:

  • Bacterial Infections
  • Fungal Infections
  • Protozoan or Helminthic Infections
  • Viral Infections
  • 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 1 month or longer, resistant to treatment, and requiring intravenous hydration, intravenous alimentation, or tube feeding.”
  • “Repeated manifestations of HIV infection… resulting in significant, documented symptoms or signs,” and limitation to one of the following:
    • Daily Living
    • Social Function
    • Task Completion
  • Infections, including:
    • Sepsis
    • Meningitis
    • Pneumonia
    • Septic Arthritis
    • Endocarditis
    • Sinusitis (with medical imaging)

You can read more about the SSA’s medical requirements here.

Call Our Pennsylvania Social Security Disability Lawyers Today

If you are living with HIV or AIDS, you may be able to qualify for monthly benefits.  To schedule a free, confidential legal consultation with a Bucks County disability lawyer, call the law offices of Young, Marr & Associates at (609) 755-3115 in New Jersey or (215) 701-6519 in Pennsylvania.  You can also contact us online.