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HIV & AIDS Health Center

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AIDS and Social Security Disability Insurance

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Disability insurance provides you regular payments when you are not able to work due to illness or injury. If you have a disability and AIDS, you may be able to obtain one or more types of disability insurance. They include:

  • Employer-paid disability. This is often free to you.
  • Private disability. You pay for this yourself.
  • Government-sponsored disability, such as Social Security. These programs are free to you.

Both employer-paid and private long-term disability plans are less available than in the past. If you are seeking coverage for either and have a disability and AIDS, consult an attorney.

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This article discusses the government-sponsored program, Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). It provides specific information for people who have a disability and AIDS.

Qualifying for Social Security Disability Insurance

Social Security is best known as a federal retirement program. It also provides disability benefits. How much you receive depends upon your salary and the number of years you’ve been covered under Social Security. Your benefits for a disability and AIDS may be reduced by any other payments you’re entitled to under other programs.

You may qualify if:

  • You’ve worked and paid Social Security taxes.
  • You’ve worked at least five years of the 10 years before you became disabled. It may be fewer than five years if you are young.
  • You are unable to perform any gainful employment, not just the job you had.
  • You have been disabled for five months. Your disability is expected to last for at least 12 months or to result in death.

After 24 months, you will also qualify for Medicare benefits. This helps pay for hospital, hospice care, lab tests, home health care, and other medical services.

You may qualify for both SSDI and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) -- another federal program. This may be true if your Social Security benefits are low and you have very limited income and resources.

Qualifying for SSDI If You Have a Disability and AIDS

To receive SSDI benefits, you must meet certain criteria showing you have a disability and AIDS. You must be able to provide proof of:

  • Laboratory evidence of HIV infection or at least one AIDS opportunistic infection. (CD4 count alone is not enough evidence of HIV infection.)
  • Symptoms, illness, or HIV treatment side effects. These must be severe enough to result in a marked restriction of functioning in one or more activities related to:
    • Activities of daily living, such as taking public transportation, doing household chores, or paying bills
    • Social functioning, such as the ability to consistently interact and communicate effectively
    • Concentration, persistence, or pace, such as the ability to complete tasks in a timely way
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