AIDS and HIV Infections

A diagnosis of AIDS or HIV is devastating in many ways. People who receive this diagnosis not only have to deal with manifold symptoms of infection but also the pervasive social stigma that unfortunately continues to goes along with it. Fortunately, it is becoming more and more difficult to be considered disabled on the basis of HIV infection. This is fortunate because the cocktail of drugs used to treat HIV infection is becoming more and more effective as research has improved the treatment of HIV. In the past, HIV infection was death sentence. This is no longer the case. Now, people can live relatively healthy lives for years with HIV infection and many never develop AIDS.

If you are diagnosed with AIDS and treatment does not improve your condition, you are probably going to be qualified for disability benefits. This is because your condition must be at certain degree of severity to qualify as full blown AIDS, and that level of severity is reflected in the disability regulations. A CD4 count of below 200 (despite treatment) will be considered strongly supportive evidence when taken together with clinical findings of opportunistic infections such as fungal or viral infections.

If you suffer from HIV infection but have not been diagnosed with AIDS, you might still be qualified for benefits. This is true if the combination of your symptoms would prevent you from being able to perform even simple sedentary work. For instance, if you have nausea and diarrhea that would cause you to miss work frequently and be away from the work station for more breaks than are usually allowed in the work place, then you could be considered disabled on that basis. If you have one of the many secondary conditions that HIV infection leads to, you could be considered disabled if your secondary condition is sufficiently severe. For instance if your chronic viral or fungal infections are causing marked limitations in your daily activities. Of course you need to be compliant with all recommended treatment.

If you are over 50, the fatigue and malaise that commonly goes along with HIV infection could be enough for you to be considered disabled if it causes you to be limited to no more than sedentary work and you have a history of unskilled work.

The diagnosis of AIDS or HIV commonly goes along with a diagnosis of depression. If you are depressed, you need to be in mental health treatment in order for you to count your depression as part of what is disabling you.

The requirements for being considered disabled on the basis of AIDS or HIV infection are discussed more fully in the Social Security Administration’s Blue Book found on their website at: http://www.socialsecurity.gov/disability/professionals/bluebook/14.00-Immune-Adult.htm