Does HIV Qualify for Social Security Disability?
Social Security disability benefits are available to qualified individuals living with HIV/AIDS. To qualify, you must prove your medical condition has made it impossible to work. Benefits also may be available to qualified children living with HIV/AIDS.
The Social Security Administration uses a rigorous evaluation process. It is not enough to prove you suffer from HIV or AIDS. You also must prove the illness is debilitating to the point you cannot earn a living income. Further, to qualify for disability benefits you must have earned sufficient work credits. If you have not and meet income requirements, you may qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
How the Social Security Administration Evaluates Your Disability Claim
The Social Security Administration (SSA) receives thousands of disability applications each year. The process can be complicated and time-consuming, with some applications taking several years to resolve. The SSA does, however, make an effort to process applications from those living with HIV and AIDS as quickly as possible.
The SSA works with a state-based agency known as Disability Determination Services (DDS) during the initial evaluation of your application. The DDS will examine your application, medical history and doctor’s reports to determine if you meet the SSA’s definition of disabled.
Some applicants who meet income and resource requirements may qualify for temporary SSI while the DDS processes an application. To qualify for temporary benefits, you must prove:
- you are not currently employed;
- you meet the income limits for Supplemental Security Income (SSI); and
- your HIV infection is severe to the point outlined in the SSA’s medical eligibility guidelines.
Note that these SSI benefits are available on a six-month time limit before SSA makes a final claim decision.
Steps You Can Take to Improve Your Chances of a Successful Application
Disability benefits are available only to those who have demonstrated the existence of a qualified medical or mental impairment. The SSA and DDS are very thorough in their evaluations and will scrutinize your application to ensure you qualify for benefits. It is not unusual for a first-time application to be denied.
There are steps you can take to speed up the application process and provide a better chance for approval. Be sure to include the following in your application:
- your Social Security number and birth certificate;
- your most recent income tax forms;
- information about financial resources (if applying for SSI);
- names and contact information for all of your treating doctors or hospitals and clinics where you have received treatment for HIV or AIDS;
- information about how your immune system disorder affects your daily life; and
- your work history for the past 15 years.
You also have the right to hire an attorney to assist you in filing your initial application and lodging any subsequent appeals. An attorney cannot charge any fees unless he or she successfully recovers past-due disability benefits, and attorneys are limited to a certain percentage of those benefits.
Call today to schedule a free case evaluation with Rob Levine & Associates – 866-LAW-SSDI (866-529-7734).