While HIV no longer presents the risk it once did to anyone diagnosed with it, it impacts everyone differently. Some people still experience severe and chronic symptoms, even with treatment. If you’re no longer able to work or have had to significantly reduce your work hours because of your HIV, you may be able to qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits.
If you apply for SSDI, the Social Security Administration (SSA) and Colorado’s Disability Determination Service (DDS) will evaluate your claim. A disability evaluation specialist along with a physician will determine whether the impairments you’re suffering due to HIV prevent you from performing what’s known as substantive gainful activity (SGA).
What specific impairments are considered?
The HIV-related impairments that can impact SGA include (but are not limited to):
- Bacterial, viral and other chronic infections that require regular treatment
- Hematologic and neurological abnormalities
- Malignant neoplasms
- HIV wasting syndrome
Mental impairments related to a person’s medical condition may also be considered. SSA offices have a complete list of HIV-related impairments that may qualify you to receive SSDI.
The three general areas of life that comprise SGA are:
- Social functioning
- Daily activity
- Ability to complete tasks on time
The more information you provide, the better
The SSA gives priority to applications from those with HIV over those from people with many other conditions. However, you can still expect your application to take several months to process.
You can help improve your chances of having your application approved by providing all information requested in your initial application and by being as thorough as possible. It’s a good idea to keep a calendar or other records of how your HIV impacts your SGA. Documentation from your own physician can help as well.
If you’re having difficulty getting your SSDI application approved, an attorney with experience dealing with Social Security benefits can help you put together an application and documentation that will improve your chances of approval. They can also advise you on other potential Social Security benefits, like Supplemental Security Income (SSI) that can help you get the financial support you need.