I have been diagnosed with AIDS; am I eligible for Social Security disability benefits?

Victims of chronic and potentially terminal illnesses may qualify for Social Security disability benefits in order to help relieve the strain of financial obligations. Human immunodeficiency virus is one such condition. HIV is a virus that results in the progressive failure of the immune system. It nearly always goes on to develop into Autoimmune Deficiency Syndrome, or AIDS. In order to qualify for disability benefits, you must first show that your HIV has progressed to this point.

Meeting the Criteria for the Social Security Administration’s HIV Listing

In order to meet the criteria for the HIV listing in the Social Security Administration’s policies, you must prove that you have been diagnosed with either HIV or AIDS through specific tests. You must also demonstrate that you have one of the following conditions:

  1. Bacterial infection
  2. Viral infection
  3. Fungal infection
  4. Protozoan or helminthic infection
  5. Cancer
  6. Skin or mucus membrane condition
  7. HIV encephalopathy with swelling of the brain that causes cognitive or physical impairments
  8. HIV wasting syndrome with a loss of 10% of your body weight and diarrhea that is at least twice a day, or, alternatively, diarrhea that lasts for a month or longer
  9. Diarrhea that lasts for longer than a month and does not respond to treatment, requiring intravenous hydration or a feeding tube
  10. Infections that do not respond to treatment or that lead to hospitalizations three or more times in one year

Further, if you are experiencing any of these symptoms severely enough to cause impairments in your ability to carry out activities of daily living, functioning socially, or focusing on and finishing tasks, you may also be eligible.

To familiarize yourself with the process of pursuing disability benefits, we encourage you to view our free guide, Social Security Disability: What You Need to Know. We also invite you to share the guide with your friends and family on Facebook!

Carl M. Weisbrod
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Managing Partner of Morgan & Weisbrod, Board Certified in Social Security Disability Law