The SSA definition of disability may differ from some other generally accepted definitions. The SSA definition is specific and being HIV positive is not automatically considered a disability. Although treatments available today to treat HIV are often effective in controlling symptoms and complications, continued employment depends on how far your HIV has progressed and whether your disease has progressed to AIDS. The value of your “resources” is one of the factors that determine whether you are eligible for SSI benefits, along with deciding whether you are medically disabled.
For HIV to be considered a disability by the SSA, you do not need to be able to do any significant gainful employment because of the symptoms you have. For example, if you worked the same job for 20 years before becoming disabled, it would be harder to learn the skills required to change jobs at this point in your life. For someone who becomes disabled at a younger age or has worked in multiple areas, it will be easier to make a transition. Intensive AIDS treatments can also force a patient to stop working. This is one of the factors that answers the question: “Is AIDS a disability?
Another condition that must be met for HIV to be considered a disability is that it is not possible to make money by learning a new skill or changing jobs. People with invisible disabilities may not look disabled, but that doesn’t mean you can’t relate to communities for disabled people. For an illness to be considered a disability by the SSA, it must be impossible for you to earn enough money through a job to support yourself. This means that if you stopped using drugs or alcohol for three months or more and were therefore no longer disabled, it is an essential part of your disability.
However, if you have stopped using drugs or alcohol for three months or more and were still disabled due to other impairments, drugs or alcohol are not an essential part. It is important to know that this is not the only way to be eligible for disability benefits with AIDS. Assuming that your disability status remains compliant, you can maintain your Medicare coverage for eight and a half years after you start work (including your nine-month trial period). Social Security can still find you disabled, even if your medical records don’t provide the exact information the agency needs to find you as disabled under Listing 14,11. Certain complications of HIV-positive disease make the SSA more likely to consider you for disability benefits.