At one time a diagnosis of HIV/AIDS was associated with finality. However, with today’s medical advances, a person with HIV/AIDS can live a long life with the proper medical care. However, despite medical abilities, HIV/AIDS and necessary treatment can be debilitating.
If you have HIV/AIDS, you may qualify for HIV / AIDS Social Security disability benefits. If you are unable to work or your activities of daily living are severely limited because of your condition, you should apply for benefits. Our knowledgeable Georgia HIV/AIDS Social Security Disability representatives at Adams & Associates Disability, Inc. are ready to help you start the application process.
What Is HIV/AIDS?
HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) can become AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome) if left untreated. HIV is a virus just like the flu; however, the human body cannot completely get rid of HIV. Once you get the virus that causes human immunodeficiency, you have it for life.
The virus that causes HIV attacks T cells in the immune system, which helps fight infections. If HIV is untreated, it can reduce the number of T cells to the point that a person is more likely to get infections, including infection-related cancer. When a person develops significant infections or cancer due to HIV, they develop AIDS, which is a final stage of HIV.
Although no cure exists for HIV, there are effective medical treatments that can prevent the progression to AIDS and the development of infections and cancer. Antiretroviral therapy (ART) may be used to increase the lifespan of someone living with HIV. The medication can even lower the chances of transmitting the virus to other people. A person who receives proper medical treatment can live as long as someone without HIV.
For more information about HIV/AIDS and treatments, visit Aids.gov.
Debilitating Symptoms And Side Effects
Although modern medicine can effectively treat HIV/AIDS, the disease can still have devastating effects on the body. ART medications and treatment for severe infections and cancer can also have a negative impact on a person’s health.
Symptoms of HIV include:
- Night sweats
- Muscle aches
- Sore throat
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Mouth ulcers
Recurring infections and cancer can also be symptoms of HIV; however, if untreated they can result in the development of AIDS. ART medications can greatly decrease the symptoms of HIV, but they also have side effects that can be debilitating, including:
- Blood loss
- Heart disease
- High blood sugar and diabetes
- Lactic acidosis
- Kidney, liver, or pancreas damage
- Severe nausea and vomiting
- Chronic diarrhea
- Numbness and tingling
- Extreme fatigue
Although the side effects can be significant, the medications can prevent the advancement of HIV, recurrent infections, and cancer development.
When Is HIV/AIDS A Disability?
The Social Security Administration (SSA) details factors that make HIV severe enough to be a disability on its Adult Listing of Impairments, Category 14.08 Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) Infection.
Proof of disability requires positive diagnosis of HIV/AIDS. This can be proven with verifiable medical tests, including laboratory blood work, and physician notes. Physician notes should document the onset of the disease and extent of impairments that you experience.
You must also show that you experience any of the following associated with HIV/AIDS:
- Bacterial infections – You may experience multiple or recurrent bacterial infections, including but not limited to, mycobacterial infections, nocardiosis, and non-typhoid salmonella.
- Fungal infections – You may have aspergillosis, candidiasis, coccidioidomycosis, cryptococcosis, histoplasmosis, mucormycosis, or pneumonia.
- Protozoan or helminthic infections – These include cryptosporidiosis, isosporiasis, microsporidiosis, strongyloidiasis, and toxoplasmosis.
- Viral infections – You may have cytomegalovirus, herpes simplex virus, herpes zoster, or progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy.
- Malignant neoplasms – This may include carcinomas, sarcomas, lymphomas, and squamous cell carcinomas.
- Conditions of the skin or mucous membranes – You may have extensive fungus or ulcers that do not respond to treatment.
- HIV encephalopathy – This may be characterized by cognitive or motor dysfunction that limits function and is progressive.
- HIV wasting syndrome – This may be characterized by involuntary weight loss, chronic diarrhea, and chronic weakness.
- Diarrhea – You may have digestive disturbances that last one month or longer and is resistant to treatment, requires intravenous hydration, intravenous alimentation, or tube feeding.
- One or more infections – These may include sepsis, meningitis, pneumonia, septic arthritis, endocarditis, or sinusitis that is resistant to treatment or requires hospitalization or intravenous treatment.
- Repeated infections – These may limit activities of daily living, the ability to maintain social functioning, and the ability to complete tasks in a timely manner due to deficiencies in concentration, persistence, or pace.
This list is not exhaustive, and the Adult Listing includes many more details regarding requirements for qualification of disability.
Filing for HIV / AIDS Social Security Disability Claim
You may apply online, in person, via telephone, or by mail through the Social Security Administration. You must include significant medical documentation with your initial application in order to be approved right away. Experienced Georgia HIV/AIDS Social Security disability representatives with Adams & Associates Disability, Inc. can help you gather the appropriate information and submit a successful claim or help make an effective appeal if your initial application was denied. Call 1 (888) 551-1190 to schedule an appointment.