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Is Being Hiv Positive A Disability

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Getting Disability For Hiv/aids

Question 4: People who are disabled who become HIV-positive and people with HIV who become disabled

The HIV listing in Social Security’s “blue book” is complex. The listing was changed significantly in early 2017 and it is now under section 14.11 of the listings rather than 14.08. To meet the requirements of the new listing, you must first show that you have been diagnosed with HIV or AIDS through proper medical evidence. Next you must show that you have one of the following:

  • Castleman disease affecting multiple groups of lymph nodes or organs containing lymphoid tissue
  • central nervous system lymphoma
  • pulmonary Kaposi sarcoma
  • absolute CD4 count of 50 cells/mm3 or less
  • absolute CD4 count of less than 200 cells/mm3 or CD4 percentage of less than 14 percent, and one of the following:
    • BMI measurement of less than 18.5, or
    • Hemoglobin measurement of less than 8.0 grams per deciliter .
  • HIV complications requiring at least three hospitalizations within a 12-month period. Each hospitalization must last at least 48 hours and be at least 30 days apart.
  • repeated HIV infections, including the conditions listed above that don’t meet the criteria above, with one of the following:
    • severe limitation of activities of daily living
    • severe limitation in social functioning, or
    • severe limitation in completing tasks due to problems concentrating, keeping up with the pace, or endurance.

Social Security’s HIV listing gives much more detail on what’s required to show that you meet the above criteria you may want to go over the listing with your doctor to see if you meet the criteria.

Schedule A Free Review With One Of Our Local Disability Advocates

Still, have questions? HIV is a disease that varies widely from individual to individual. The symptoms and signs may be debilitating for one and not be present for another. And because of the medications HIV requires, working can be nearly impossible for some. An experienced Social Security attorney near you can help you determine which program you may qualify for. Having an attorney file your paperwork makes you 2x more likely to win benefits the first time you apply.

Ready to see if you may qualify? Click the button below to start your free online benefits evaluation now!

People With Disabilities Hiv And Aids


  • There is growing evidence that people with disablities are at higher risk of HIV infection than people who are not disabled.
  • People with disabilities often experience increased risk factors associated with acquiring HIV including poverty, increased vulnerability to sexual violence and abuse, limited access to education and healthcare, and lack the information and resources needed to facilitate safer sex.
  • People with disabilities are often overlooked in HIV sexual and reproductive health and rights programming and face increased barriers to accessing services.
  • HIV and disability are also linked as people can develop disabilities as a result of the progression of HIV or due to the side-effects of antiretroviral treatment .
  • Tackling HIV among people with disabilities needs a rights-based approach, which tackles barriers holistically so that wider issues such as gender-inequality and violence are addressed.

Explore this page to find out more about why people with disabilities are at risk of HIV, whether HIV can cause disability, making HIV services accessible to people with disabilities and involving people with disabilities in HIV programming.

More than one billion people, 15% of the worlds population, live with a disability. Four out of five people with disabilities live in low- and middle-income countries.12 This includes between 150 – 200 million children and adolescents .3

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If You Have Hiv Or Aids Yet Your Disability Does Not Match Social Securitys Listing You May Still Be Eligible For Social Security Disability Benefits If The Effects Of Medications You Are Taking Severely Affect Your Ability To Function

Social Security will consider the effectiveness of medications you are taking and the side effects of those medications, particularly adverse reactions. They will also look at the time and difficulty it takes to follow treatment, the length of treatment, and how treatment affects your mental functioning, so it is important for your doctor to note any difficulties you are experiencing. Some common side effects of HIV/AIDS medications include abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, anemia, fatigue, general weakness, anxiety, depression and inability to concentrate.

Why Do People With Recent Hiv Infection Account For A Disproportionate Number Of Transmissions

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Higher infectiousness

The elevated viral load of someone recently infected with HIV is the main biological reason that they are more likely to transmit HIV to others at this time. The higher the viral load, the greater the risk is of transmitting HIV to others through unprotected sex. Researchers estimate that the risk of transmitting HIV to another person from one act of unprotected sex is 26 times higher during the first three months after infection than during the months and years that follow.“10”,11

More high-risk behaviour

A high viral load alone is not enough to transmit HIV to another person a recently infected individual also needs to be engaging in activities that can lead to the transmission of HIV, such as unprotected sex. Unfortunately, a person who has recently been infected with HIV is more likely to be engaging in high-risk behaviours than a person who has been infected for a longer period of time.12,13,14,15 There are two possible explanations for this. First, a recently infected individual is more likely to be engaging in high-risk behaviours because this is what led to their HIV infection. Second, many recently infected individuals are unaware of their HIV status and therefore may not realize the importance of having safer sex.

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Recognizing Hiv As A Disability

In Canada, people with a disability have the right to ask their employer to make changes to their workspace or duties so they can perform their job like everybody else. We call this accommodation. Today in Canada, people with HIV or AIDS have the right to be accommodated by their employer the same as anyone else with a medical disability. That wasn’t always the case. Not too long ago, a person could be fired for being HIV positive.

Two landmark cases helped steer Canada towards change.

Gilles Fontaine was fired from his job as a cook aboard a Canadian Pacific train after managers learned that he was HIV positive. In 1989, the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal ruled that Canadian Pacific had discriminated against Mr. Fontaine because of his illness.

This ruling was reinforced in 1993 when the Tribunal heard a similar case. Simon Thwaites, a naval officer in the Canadian Forces was forced to leave the military because he was HIV positive. The Tribunal concluded that the Canadian Forces had discriminated against Mr. Thwaites by not accommodating his disability. In other words, the Canadian Forces should have found a way for Mr. Thwaites to make a contribution despite the fact he had HIV.

These decisions were part of a larger shift towards greater understanding and acceptance of HIV and AIDS in Canada.

Applying For Ssi: Advance Payments

If you are applying for SSI and have an HIV infection with some severe symptoms, you may qualify for “presumptive disability benefits,” which means you would get immediate payments of disability payments while you wait for a final decision on your disability benefits. Find out more in Nolo’s article on presumptive disability.

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Is Hiv Considered A Disability

The SSA definition of a disability might differ from some other generally accepted definitions. The SSA definition is specific and being HIV positive is not automatically considered disability.

For any condition to be considered a disability by the SSA, it must make it impossible for you to earn enough money through a job to support yourself. This monthly income level is called substantial gainful activity.

In 2020, the substantial gainful activity amount is $1260 for non-blind individuals. This number is $2110 for blind individuals. Therefore, in order for HIV to be considered a disability by the SSA, the symptoms that you have must leave you unable to earn substantial gainful activity.

Another condition that must be met in order for HIV to be considered a disability is that it is not possible to earn money by learning a new skill or changing jobs. This will take into consideration things like age and employment history.

For example, if you have worked the same job for 20 years before you became disabled, it would be more difficult to learn the skills required to change jobs at that point in your life. For someone who becomes disabled at a younger age, or has worked in multiple fields it will be easier to make a transition.

Although there is very specific criteria that must be met in order to qualify for disability benefits, the SSA provides clear definitions of those guidelines.

Legal Protections Afforded Under The Ada

UN: Half the HIV-positive population can access treatment

The ADA extends legal protections, under specific conditions, to all people with disabilities. The key areas of the law, as it applies to HIV, include:

  • State and Local Governments: The ADA clearly applies to all state or local governments, districts, departments, and agencies, as well as any other entity or commission that fall under the aegis of a state or local government. This includes public schools, public pools, libraries, government hospitals, or city-operated transportation services.
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    Complications Diseases Or Infections Essential To Qualify For Disability

    After proof of HIV infection, the complainant needs to authenticate that he or she is suffering from one of the opportunistic diseases or cancer common with HIV-infected persons below:

    iv. Hamartoma of the lymphatics also known as Castleman Disease

    v. A low CD4 count fewer than 50 cells/mm3

    vi. Has less than 14 percent CD4 percentage, only if any of the following also exists:

    a. A hemoglobin measurement fewer than 8.0 grams per deciliter, orb. A body mass index of less than 18.5, or

    vii. HIV infection complications that led you to be hospitalized more than thrice in one year.

    Also, the infection must significantly deter you from engaging in any of the following:

    i. Day to day activitiesii. Normal social functioningiii. Finishing tasks on time

    Putting Rights At The Heart Of The Hiv Response

    The fact that people with disabilities are highly vulnerable to HIV is indicative of the fact that marginalised, stigmatised communities with limited access to basic human rights are frequently at higher risk of HIV infection and feel the impact of HIV and AIDS more significantly than the general population.69

    For this reason, tackling HIV among people with disability needs a rights-based approach. This means tackling barriers holistically so that wider issues such as gender-inequality and violence are addressed. It also means recognising that people with disabilities are a hugely diverse group with a wide range of needs that can only be identified and addressed by enabling people with disabilities to lead the design and implementation of HIV programmes. Strengthening disabled peoples organisations is pivotal to this, as is strengthening the promotion and defence of disability rights in the global HIV response.

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    A Long Term Disability Attorney Can Help

    Filing for long term disability for HIV can be challenging your insurance company may be skeptical of your symptoms and their severity, underestimate the effects of your medications, and not take into account both physical and cognitive impairments.

    An experienced long term disability insurance attorney can help. While your insurance company will ask your employer to provide basic information, at Riemer Hess we will dig deeper to develop a detailed and accurate description of your actual job duties and the nature of the working environment.

    Your insurance company will ask the doctor to fill out a pre-printed Physician Statement. We will help your doctor do better than that by providing him with a Residual Functional Capacity Questionnaire. The Questionnaire will provide us with much more detailed information about your HIV status, your symptoms and treatment, and your ability to function relevant to your specific job duties

    Additionally, we can also substantiate your HIV claim through other testing, such as a Neuropsychological Evaluation. We have experience with HIV cases and know what evidence your insurance company requires to approve disability benefits.

    If you are suffering from HIV and considering long term disability, or if you have already been denied disability benefits but have HIV, our New York long term disability lawyers can help. for a consultation on your disability case.

    Getting Help With Your Disability Application

    HIV  an illness multiplied by discrimination

    You can get help with your claim from a friend, family member, disability advocate, or Social Security attorney. You can even have someone else attend an application appointment with you or complete an online application on your behalf.

    To find out more about your case, you can fill out this free evaluation form. Use all of the resources at your disposal for the best chances of winning.

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    Information Provided By Third Parties

    Beyond medical evidence from your doctor and your own statements, your insurance company will acceptand even seekinformation from third parties regarding your HIV.

    This third party evidence can include:

    • Information your insurance company receives from your employer
    • Statements from your supervisor or co-workers describing their experience working with you as your illness progressed
    • An opinion from a vocational expert as to whether you can perform your job duties.

    How To Apply For Disability Benefits With Hiv

    The SSA must usually see the same types of medical documentation regardless of whether you qualify through the Blue Book or through an RFC evaluation. This documentation includes, but is not limited to:

    • Lab reports proving a positive HIV diagnosis
    • CD4 test results showing immune system compromise and how susceptible you are to opportunistic infections
    • Hospitalization or emergency room records going back at least one year
    • Diagnostic reports documenting complications of HIV, including infections, cancer, if present, or organ damage

    HIV disability applications can be submitted online, via the SSAs website, or in person at the local SSA office. Under some circumstances, remote or phone applications can also be arranged:

    • Visit the SSAs website to start your Social Security Disability Insurance application.
    • Visit the local SSA office to complete a Supplemental Security Income application.
    • Keep in mind that SSDI applications can also be done at the local branch office.

    Take as many records with you as possible for your visit at the local office and be sure to have your records handy if completing your application online as well. You dont want to leave any blanks on your application. Failing to answer all questions can lead to delays and may even result in denial of benefits.

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    Hiv Listing In 2016 And Earlier

    The old listing listed more infections that could qualify a claimant for disability automatically:

    • bacterial infections
    • fungal infection
    • cancer
    • parasitic and protozoan infections
    • viral infections
    • respiratory conditions caused by frequent infections
    • HIV wasting syndrome , and
    • other resistant infections .

    Evidence Provided By You

    World TB Day | Some women living with HIV have become disabled due to TB

    Your insurance company will also take into consideration your own information, documentation, and statements. Medical records do not always encompass all the ways your HIV symptoms interfere with your occupational duties. Other evidence you can submit with your claim includes:

    • A job description, written in your own words, with notes indicating how your symptoms have impacted your ability to perform each required task.
    • A symptom diary, in which you detail the nature of your symptoms and the impact of those symptoms on your daily life, over an extended period of time.
    • A personal statement. To support your claim, you can write a personal statement explaining the onset of your HIV, your symptoms, and the ways they prevent you from working. For example, if your HIV-related fatigue is severe, you may have trouble focusing for extended periods of time, arrive late to work from oversleeping, miss deadlines, or make mistakes on projects you ordinarily wouldnt. Make sure to cite specific examples of your symptoms impacting your ability to work. The more detailed, the better.

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    What Hiv Or Aids Symptoms Are Required For Disability Benefits

    A claimant who has a documented case of AIDS is likely to be approved for disability benefits, because once the HIV infection has progressed to AIDS, it’s likely that the person has problems that will prevent him or her from working . But there are situations where a person infected with HIV without an AIDS diagnosis will be allowed disability benefits if his or her condition is severe enough. This is because the Social Security Administration looks at the patient’s condition and functional limitations, not whether AIDS has been diagnosed, to determine whether disability benefits should be granted.

    What Is Risky Sex

    Risky sex is sex that may lead to infection of an HIV-negative individual. There are many ways to decrease the risk of HIV infection, like taking HIV medications every day, or using PrEP, or using condoms or other latex barriers during sex.

    HIV is passed through body fluids such as semen, vaginal, or anal fluid, or blood. The less contact you have with these, the lower the risk. The most sensitive areas where these fluids are risky are in the vagina or anus and rectum . The protective tissue there is thin, and is easily torn, which makes it easier for the virus to enter your body. Saliva and tears aren’t as risky.

    In general, vaginal or anal sex without a condom is the most risky.

    Here is a list of sexual activities organized by level of risk to help you and your partner make decisions:

    High risk

    • Anal sex without a condom
    • Vaginal sex without a condom

    Low risk

    • Sex with a condom when you use it correctly
    • Oral sex, but don’t swallow semen
    • Deep kissing
    • Sharing sex toys that have been cleaned or covered with a new condom between uses

    No risk

    • Cyber sex
    • Using sex toys that you don’t share

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