You may never forget the day your doctor told you that you were HIV positive. That one sentence changed your life forever: you spent the rest of the day at Morristown Medical Center being shuffled from room to room for more tests, to the lab for blood draws, and the whole experience was a blur of panic and medical jargon. Now that you have come to terms with your condition, you can finally take control of your treatment and its effects—even if that means applying for disability to get you through your long periods of illness.
Providing the Right Medical Evidence to Get Your Disability Application Approved
The first thing you will need to do to apply for Social Security disability is provide medical evidence that you are HIV positive. Evidence of human immunodeficiency virus can include a past medical history, test results, and laboratory findings such as:
- Blood tests. The Social Security Administration will need copies of your blood screenings and lab tests, including HIV antibody tests (such as ELISA test or immunofluorescence assay), results of positive “viral load” (such as quantitative plasma HIV RNA), HIV DNA detection, and a fluid specimen that contains HIV antigen or positive viral culture for HIV.
- CD4 tests. There are many secondary tests for HIV that do not confirm the diagnosis, but are used as supporting evidence of the condition. For example, CD4 tests will determine if there has been a reduction in the number of a patient’s T-helper lymphocytes. Patients with lowered T-cell counts are not necessarily HIV positive, but an extremely low count usually indicates that their immune system has been damaged by the virus.
- Evidence of your HIV manifestations. Any condition that may have been caused or affected by your HIV diagnosis should be documented in your application. For example, if you suffered pneumonia due to a weakened immune system, you should include hospitalization records, lab tests, and x-rays taken during the incident.
These medical records are just the first step in building a strong disability case. Since many employees continue working after they have contracted HIV, you will need to provide specific information on how your condition limits you from performing your job. If you are having trouble with your benefits application, feel free to type your questions in the chat box at the bottom of this page for a quick response.