If you have been diagnosed with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), you are probably experiencing many emotions, all at the same time. While, years ago, this diagnosis was considered a death sentence and communities often shunned sufferers, these things are no longer true in the United States.

HIV and Aids Paperwork With MedicationYou may continue to live your life on your terms for many years with proper HIV treatment and medication.

However, there may come a time when your immune system weakens to the point where you cannot work any longer. Then, Social Security disability may be an important option for you.

Social Security’s HIV Listing of Impairment

The Blue Book Listing of Impairments includes nine different ways you may qualify for disability benefits if you have HIV. You may qualify for Social Security disability if you have one of the following:

  • Multicentric Castleman disease that affects multiple groups of lymph nodes or organs containing lymphoid tissue. The Social Security Administration requires medical evidence that includes the results of biopsied lymph nodes or other accepted methods of clinical diagnosis.
  • Primary central nervous system lymphoma. This cancer originates in the brain, spinal cord, meninges, or eye. While an MRI may show lesions in the brain, it is not diagnostic. Therefore, the Social Security Administration requires the results of microscopic examination of cerebral spinal fluid, biopsied brain tissue, or other accepted methods of clinical diagnosis.
  • Primary effusion lymphoma. Primary effusion lymphoma, or body cavity lymphoma, requires microscopic examination of effusion fluid, the results of an internal organ biopsy, or another accepted method of clinical diagnosis.
  • Progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy. This condition is a progressive neurological degenerative syndrome caused by the John Cunningham (JC) virus in people who are immunocompromised. You may suffer symptoms including clumsiness, progressive weakness, vision and speech changes, and personality and cognitive changes. Clinical findings, including an MRI and positive PCR test, are usually required. However, a positive brain biopsy or another accepted method of clinical diagnosis will also be accepted.
  • Pulmonary Kaposi sarcoma. Kaposi sarcoma of the lung is the most severe form of Kaposi sarcoma. The Social Security Administration requires an accepted method of clinical diagnosis such as a microscopic examination of the induced sputum, bronchoalveolar lavage washings, or the results of biopsied transbronchial tissue.
  • Absolute CD4 count of 50 cells/mm3 or less. One measurement of your absolute CD4 count is required. If you have more than one measurement of your CD4 count within the period being considered, then the Social Security Administration will use your lowest count.
  • Absolute CD4 count of fewer than 200 cells/mm3 or CD4 percentage of fewer than 14 percent and one of the following): (1) BMI of less than 18.5; or (2) Hemoglobin measures of less than 8.0 grams per deciliter. The CD4 count and the BMI or hemoglobin values do not have to be measured on the same date.
  • Complication(s) of HIV infection requiring at least three hospitalizations within a 12-month period and at least 30 days apart. Each hospitalization must last at least 48 hours and may include time spent in a hospital emergency room immediately before the hospitalization.
  • Repeated manifestations of HIV infection, including but not limited to those listed above. Other manifestations include but are not limited to cardiovascular disease, diarrhea, distal sensory polyneuropathy, glucose intolerance, gynecological conditions, hepatitis, dementia, immune reconstitution inflammatory syndrome, infections, lipodystrophy, malnutrition, muscle weakness, myositis, neurocognitive or other mental limitation, oral hairy leukoplakia, osteoporosis, pancreatitis, or peripheral neuropathy resulting in significant, documented symptoms or signs. If you claim Social Security disability according to this listing, then you must also have one of the following at the marked level: (1) limitation of activities of daily living; (2) limitation in maintaining social functioning; or (3) limitation in completing tasks in a timely manner due to deficiencies in concentration, persistence, or pace.

Other Ways to Qualify for Social Security Disability

While there are many ways to qualify for disability benefits listed in the Blue Book, you may qualify for disability benefits for HIV or AIDS without meeting any Blue Book listing. If your condition is permanent and either equal in severity to another listing or you are unable to work, then you may qualify for disability benefits.

Are You Looking for a Social Security Disability Attorney in Boston, MA?

If you are looking to apply for social security disability, you need to speak with an experienced social security disability lawyer as soon as possible. Please contact us online or call our Natick Office directly at 508.283.5500 to schedule your free consultation.


John L. Keefe
Connect with me
Founding Attorney, Massachusetts Social Security Disability Lawyer