Tampa HIV/AIDS Social Security Lawyers

Get the Disability Benefits You Deserve - Call (813) 669-2080

Under Social Security law, an individual is considered disabled if he or she is unable to do any substantial gainful work activity because of a medical condition. The inability to work must last, or be expected to last, for at least 12 months unless the condition will result in death.

Many individuals with HIV infection have a condition that prevents them from being able to work. If their impairment(s) meet the duration requirement, they may be found disabled. On the other hand, individuals with HIV infection who are asymptomatic, or who have less severe HIV manifestations, may be found not disabled. Therefore, Social Security evaluates each case on an individual basis, and relies on the signs, symptoms, laboratory findings, and other information unique to that person's case in order to make a decision. 

How Social Security Benefits Are Decided


As in all disability claims, Social Security first tries to resolve the issue of disability based on the medical information alone. If the medical information shows either that the individual is clearly disabled, or that the individual is clearly not disabled, the case is decided based on that information. Otherwise, Social Security goes on to consider other factors, such as work capacity, age, education, and work background .

The medical evidence required to evaluate cases involving HIV infection is similar to that required for cases involving other disabling medical conditions. The evidence must be sufficiently complete to permit the medical consultant to make an independent determination about the nature, severity, and probable duration of the individual's impairment(s). A complete medical report should include the patient's medical history, clinical and laboratory findings, diagnosis, prognosis, and a statement about what the individual can still do despite his or her impairments.

The following outline describes the type of information that is particularly useful to Social Security. The outline lists frequently encountered changes due to HIV infection but it is, by no means, an exhaustive list.

Symptoms may include an individual's statements about:

  1. Low energy, fatigue, weakness
  2. Fever, night sweats
  3. Weight loss
  4. Shortness of breath
  5. Persistent cough
  6. Persistent diarrhea
  7. Depression, anxiety
  8. Forgetfulness, loss of concentration, slowness of thought
  9. Other symptoms (e.g., headaches, nausea, vomiting)

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Signs may include:

  • Muscle weakness
  • Documented fever or weight loss
  • Dyspnea
  • Neurological deficits
  • Mental abnormalities

Laboratory findings may include:

  1. Positive HIV antibody test (including any confirming test)
  2. Depressed T4 (CD4) lymphocyte count; inverted helper/suppressor ratio
  3. Abnormal blood counts (e.g., hematocrit)
  4. Other markers for HIV infection (e.g., beta-2 microglobulins, detectable p24 antigen)
  5. Radiographic or other imaging abnormalities
  6. Pertinent microbiology or pathology reports

An individual may have work related limitation(s) in the ability to:

  • Perform physical functions such as walking, standing, sitting, lifting, pushing, pulling, reaching, carrying, or handling
  • See, hear, and speak
  • Understand, carry out, and remember simple instructions
  • Use judgment
  • Respond appropriately to supervision, co-workers, and usual work situations
  • Deal with changes in a routine work setting

Persons with HIV related illness do not become disabled because they have HIV. The virus results in one or more failures of some body system. The result can be:

  1. Chronic bacterial infections
  2. Fungal infections
  3. Protozoan or helminthic infections
  4. Viral infections
  5. Malignant neoplasms
  6. Carcinoma's, sarcoma's, oral lesions or lymphoma's
  7. Conditions of the skin, such as eczema or psoriasis
  8. HIV encephalopathy
  9. HIV wasting syndrome, with diarrhea or chronic weakness
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If you have HIV and the disease is interfering with your ability to work, contact the law firm of Harris & Riviere in Tampa to discuss an application for Social Security. We have developed specialized forms for use in HIV related cases and can contact your medical doctor to complete all the necessary paperwork. 

Call us at (813) 669-2080 or contact us online to get started with our experienced attorneys.

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