Permanent disability claim
May 2, 2012
I was terminated 2 years ago for too many absentees. Company accepted disability, but Prudential denied. HIV/AIDS status 12+ years. Cannot work full time. Only occasional part time. Must work full time to qualify as disabled. Is condition a qualifier? Many side effects.
Response from Ms. Douaihy
Thank you for submitting your query. If you unable to work full time because of your health impairments, you should apply for disability benefits with the Social Security Administration ("SSA"). HIV infection is a recognized "immune system disorder" listing in the context of disability benefits. However seropositive status without any other infections or manifestations of HIV does not meet the disability listing.
There are two monetary benefit programs administered by SSA for individuals too sick to work: Supplemental Security Income ("SSI") and Social Security Disability Insurance ("SSDI"). To qualify for either you must be able to prove that your medical impairments (physical, mental or both) prevent you from working "substantial gainful activity" in the national economy. "Substantial gainful activity" really just means more than part-time work.
Regarding specific benefits programs through SSA, your eligibility depends on your financial need and resources. SSI is "means-tested" or only available to a medically eligible poor person with very limited assets. SSDI, on the other hand, is not means-tested. SSDI available to medically qualified individuals who have worked in the past and paid requisite taxes over the years. Importantly, SSDI benefits are only granted if you apply within a period you are still "insured". So if you have a work history, I would advise you to contact SSA to ask them when your "date last insured" is.
The first step to determine your eligibility for disability benefits is to apply with SSA. You can complete an application online at ssa.gov or simply walk into your local office for an appointment. In addition to your credible testimony about the ways in which your severe impairments limit your residual functional capacity on a daily basis, SSA will need ample medical documentation (i.e. certified hospital records) to substantiate your claims. If you are denied benefits initially there is a formal appeals process you may pursue. If you choose to appeal, I would strongly advise you to consult with an attorney. If you cannot afford a private attorney, there are many excellent no-cost attorneys who may be able to help. To find a pro bono attorney near you, check out the website of Legal Services Corporation at lsc.gov.
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