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Social Security Helps People with HIV/AIDS

By Everett M. Lo
Social Security Administration’s Regional Public Affairs Office in the New York Region

December 1 is World AIDS Day.


If you have HIV/AIDS and cannot work, you may qualify for disability benefits from Social Security. Your medical condition must be serious enough to prevent you from working for at least 12 months or expected to result in death.

We pay disability benefits under two programs: the Social Security disability insurance program for people who paid Social Security taxes; and the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program for people who have little income and few resources. You may qualify for one or both of these programs.

The easiest and most convenient way to apply for disability benefits is online, at www.socialsecurity.gov/disability.

We process all applications we receive from people with HIV/AIDS as quickly as possible. Social Security works with an agency in each state called the Disability Determination Services.

The state agency will look at the information you and your doctor give us and decide if you qualify for benefits.

We can pay you SSI benefits right away for up to six months before we make a final decision on your claim if:

• You are not working;
• You meet the SSI rules about income and resources; and
• Your doctor or other medical source certifies that your HIV infection is severe enough to meet our medical eligibility rules.

You can help speed up the processing of your claim by having certain information when you apply. This includes information about:

• The names and addresses of any doctors, hospitals, or clinics you have been to for treatment;
• How HIV/AIDS has affected your daily activities, such as cleaning, shopping, cooking, taking public transportation, etc.; and
• The kinds of jobs you have had during the past 15 years.

If you or someone you know has HIV/AIDS and is unable to work due to their condition, read our publication Social Security For People Living With HIV/AIDS. It’s available at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/10019.html#a0=7.

Social Security joins the President and government leaders, agencies, and organizations around the world in raising awareness of HIV infection and AIDS.

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