Report at a Glance
The U.S. Social Security Administration's HIV Infection Listings — the criteria it uses when determining whether people with HIV are disabled by their infection and eligible for benefits — do not reflect the evolution of HIV/AIDS from a fatal disease to a chronic condition, says a new report from the Institute of Medicine. The report recommends new criteria to update the HIV Infection Listings and make the claims review process more accurate and fair.
SSA established the HIV Infection Listings in 1993 at a time when people who contracted the virus typically died within a few years due to an AIDS-related opportunistic infection or malignancy. The HIV Infection Listings therefore require claimants to have a diagnosis of one of these health consequences to qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. They do not account for the possibility of opportunistic infections being cured or prevented by therapy, potential health consequences of antiretroviral treatments, or the increase of conditions that can occur jointly with chronic HIV infection, such as heart disease. Additionally, the HIV Infection Listings are the only SSA disability criteria that allow claimants to receive permanent benefits and do not require periodic re-evaluations of health status.