HIV/AIDS And Collecting Social Security Disability

3 November 2015
 Categories: Law, Blog

If have been diagnosed with AIDS/HIV and are no longer able to work, you may qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance. Your physical, sensory and mental conditions will be evaluated using the Residual Functioning Capacity (RFC) assessment. The approval process for benefits depends on how the RFC assessment evaluates your ability to do your job, so read on to learn more about it.

Early HIV Symptoms

Even the initial onset symptoms of HIV can affect your ability to do your job. Fever, shortness of breath, weight loss, and diarrhea are just some of the effects of the disease that could make working near impossible. Tingling in the extremities can make it difficult to do most jobs. These symptoms will only worsen in time and become more severe and debilitating.


If your HIV progresses to AIDS, you may notice the above symptoms increase in severity and the additional issue of an increase in all type of infections. Minor infections, which those with a healthy immune system are able to fight off, can cause life-threatening illnesses if you have AIDS. Everyday brings more and better medications to fight AIDS, but they often come with side effects that can interfere with the ability to work. At some point, most everyone with this disease will eventually become unable to work at all.

Residual Functioning Capacity (RFC)

The SSA will conduct an assessment of your condition utilizing a team consisting of a claims examiner and a medical consultant. The team will be examining your medical records to evaluate how your disease has affected your ability to do your job. The evaluation will assign a level of disability for your claim.

Three Main RFC Categories

  1. Physical: Those with HIV/AIDS often suffer from pain, weakness and constant and overwhelming fatigue. Additionally, the side effects of the drugs needed to keep the disease in check are often severe themselves.
  2. Mental: Commonly, those with this disease suffer from depression, anxiety, confusion and issues with concentration, all of which will greatly impact one's ability to work. Other areas of evaluation include cognitive skills, memory and problem solving.
  3. Sensory: Each of the five senses are evaluated: speech, vision, hearing, touch and smell. Certain HIV/AIDS medications can cause photo-sensitivity, which will impact those who must work outdoors.

Applying for Social Security Disability can be a frustrating and time-consuming endeavor, and may be more so for those suffering from this disease. Make sure that you get the support and expert legal guidance from a Social Security attorney to help you get through this process and to get you the benefits that you have worked for, and that you now need. Click this link for more information.