Social Security disability claimants seeking SSDI or SSI benefits based on a long term HIV infection can be approved if they present evidence of complications that will preclude competitive work. Remember that Social Security defines disability in terms of how your impairment would likely impair your capacity to perform the demands of minimally demanding work.
SSA’s treatment of HIV claims has changed significantly over the past 15 years. In the 1990s and early 2000’s, most judges felt that HIV was a precursor to AIDS and generally treated HIV infections and AIDS as one in the same. These cases were usually approved fairly quickly.
About 10 years ago, judge took notice of advances in medical science that allowed people infected with HIV to suppress
the virus and lead apparently normal lives. HIV was then treated similar to Hepatitis – an active, un-curable condition but one that need not prevent a claimant from working for years at a time.
AIDS, by contrast, was usually approved based on Listing 14.08.
Over the last 4 to 5 years, however, Social Security judges have become more open to the idea that HIV often does
create complications that, when considered as a whole, can prevent an afflicted person from working. Complications that seem to resonate most with judges include:
- chronic infections
- non-healing fissures in the body
- weight loss
In my practice I have had success representing claimants with HIV who exhibit these symptoms and medication side effects
and who have support from a treating physician.
Jonathan Ginsberg represents clients in disability claims filed with the Social Security Administration.
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