HIV and the Evidence You Need to Get Your Social Security Disability Application Approved

You haven’t been feeling well for several months now. At first, you thought it was just a cold that you couldn’t shake off, but you were really tired and run down too. After weeks of trying to treat your symptoms, your doctor at Lincoln Internal Medicine Associates finally ordered more tests. You were shocked to find out that you are HIV positive.

The doctors say that you can control the symptoms, and the infection is not nearly as deadly as it was a decade ago—but you are still very susceptible to disease. Is it possible that you could get disability benefits and avoid going in to work?

What Social Security Needs in Order to Grant Disability Payments for HIV Infection

The Social Security Administration (SSA) will need a few pieces of medical evidence to confirm that you have human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). As with most immune system disorders, you will need to provide the SSA with a medical history, physical examination records, and test results that may include:

  • Definitive laboratory tests. You should provide the SSA with copies of any lab tests you have had that point to the presence of HIV infection, including HIV antibody tests, a positive viral load test, HIV DNA detection, positive viral culture for HIV from peripheral blood mononuclear cells, or a fluid specimen that contains the HIV antigen.
  • CD4 tests. These tests, which show a reduction in a patient’s T-helper lymphocytes, are used to support the HIV-positive diagnosis. While patients who have a reduced CD4 count do not necessarily have HIV infection, they are extremely susceptible to infection if the count is below 200/mm3 (making it likely that their immune system has been compromised by HIV).
  • Documentation of specific HIV manifestations. Your doctors may perform additional tests on a number of bodily systems to discover how the virus affects you specifically. You may suffer additional infection by other diseases that infiltrate your immune system, and evidence of these will strengthen your disability case. For example, if you underwent additional testing at Bryan Medical Center in Lincoln after your diagnosis, including imaging tests, cultures, or biopsies, you should include a copy of the lab report or hospitalization records.

If you do not have a definitive diagnosis for HIV infection, you still may be able to get benefits. The SSA will grant benefits to patients suffering from any condition that indicates a cellular breakdown in the immune system. For instance, if someone is suffering from pneumocystis pneumonia (PCP) and there is no other explanation as to why he has a reduced resistance to the disease, it will be assumed that he is also suffering from HIV infection. For more information on getting your benefits approved on the first try, fill out the contact link on this page to ask us a question about your application.

Timothy J. Cuddigan
Omaha Social Security and Veterans Disability Lawyer With Over 40 Years Experience