Working with an HIV positive diagnosis can be difficult. Those that are unable to work because of their HIV/AIDS may qualify for disability benefits. But a diagnosis is not enough to guarantee them. You must meet the Social Security Administration’s (SSA’s) definition of a disability for HIV infection. Providing your signs, symptoms, lab findings, and other information is essential to help them reach a decision. They then evaluate each case on an individual basis.
Thanks to the amazing treatments available today, many HIV positive patients are asymptomatic or have less severe HIV symptoms. Most HIV patients will only receive temporary benefits until their condition stabilizes. But if you weren’t diagnosed until advanced AIDS/secondary disease has already set in, long-term benefits may be available.
Federal Disability Programs That Offer Assistance for HIV Positive Americans
The SSA pays benefits to HIV-positive Americans from two different federal disability programs: SSDI and SSI. The first is the Social Security Disability Insurance program (SSDI, or SSD). This is for those who have paid Social Security taxes. The second program is the Supplemental Security Income program (SSI) and is for those with little income and resources. It is possible to qualify for benefits from both programs.
SSDI Benefits for HIV Positive Americans
SSDI is for those who work and pay Social Security taxes. These taxes earn you Social Security credits, and enough credits qualify you for benefits. Most people earn the maximum of four per year, but it’s possible to earn more or less. Generally, you need five years of work in the 10 years before the year you became disabled. You must also meet the SSA’s definition of disabled.
For HIV positive Americans, your condition (that prevents you from working) must last at least a year. You will also qualify if it should result in death. The condition must prevent you from doing what the SSA calls substantial gainful work. See the current COLA and SGA limits.
SSI for HIV Positive Americans
If you haven’t worked long enough to qualify for SSDI, you may qualify for SSI payments. However, your income and resources must be low enough to qualify for the program. Currently, maximum resource limits to qualify for SSI are $2,000 per individual and $3,000 for couples. If your child has HIV/AIDS, he or she may qualify for SSI as well.
HIV Medical Requirements for SSD Benefits
The SSA requires a thorough medical evaluation to determine whether or not an HIV positive patient is disabled. This includes a definitive diagnosis along with signs, symptoms, and lab findings. They also want to know how your HIV diagnosis affects your ability to work. Health professionals should review Providing Medical Evidence for Individuals with Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) Infection for health professionals who submit these records to the SSA. It details what is required to receive benefits.
Schedule a Free Review With One of Our Local Disability Advocates
Still, have questions? HIV is a disease that varies widely from individual to individual. The symptoms and signs may be debilitating for one and not be present for another. And because of the medications HIV requires, working can be nearly impossible for some. An experienced Social Security attorney near you can help you determine which program(s) you may qualify for. Having an attorney file your paperwork makes you 3x more likely to win benefits the first time you apply.
Ready to see if you may qualify? Click the button below to start your free online benefits evaluation now:
Mandy Voisin is a freelance writer, blogger, and author of Girls of the Ocean and Star of Deliverance. As an accomplished content marketing consultant, mom of four and doctor's wife, Mandy has written hundreds of articles about dangerous drugs and medical devices, medical issues that impact disabled Americans, veterans' healthcare and workers' compensation issues since 2016.