Meds, Mind, Body & Benefits > Insurance, Benefits Programs & HIV

Update on my question about disability.


Went to the doctor yesterday and got beat to the punch.  I didn't ask him about disability.  He told me in no uncertain terms that I working myself to death and need to pursue disability.  He said I am very lucky survived the heart attack based on the report he got from the cardiologist and between that and my HIV related issues, my focus needs to be on my health instead of my work and I needed to get a lawyer.

So there it is. I went home and cried a little.  I am not sure if it was from relief or sadness.

They gave me number for a case worker who might be able to connect me with a decent lawyer that can help with filing.

It all seems a bit overwhelming. Not sure what to do next except talk to the lawyer.   Any other advice would be well appreciated.

Hey libvet, I don't have any advice to offer, but I will say that it's wonderful that you have a caring doctor in your corner.

I'm not surprised you went home and cried a little, and I bet it was a combination of relief and sadness. I'm sure I'd feel the same in your shoes.

I hope the case worker you've been put in touch with is a good one and can help you find a hard-working lawyer who cares.

Good luck, and keep us posted. In the meantime, take care of yourself!


Hi libvet,
I do not know everything about SSDI.  Having said that, I went through the ordeal of applying and eventually receiving disability with a private insurance company and Social Security.  I will concentrate on the SSDI as I think that is what you are looking for.

We have some common medical history.  I have been poz since 1997.  In 1998 had a bad heart attack with 5 graft bypass.  I recovered pretty well and wanted to continue work.  In 2006 had an additional moderate attack. My primary physician and cardiologist were both supportive of claim. Never went back to work.  Initially filed for long-term disability with UNAM insurance company.  It was very stressful.
Let us just say the UNAM reps did not go to charm school. ;D  I was awarded 60% of my salary for 2 years.

Flashing forward---I realized that I needed to apply for SSDI.  Initially denied..but after about 9 months I began receiving benefits.

Looking back....very important to get a lawyer that is well-versed in this work.  You may need to make some inquires in your area.  A good assertive lawyer will guide you through the process.  He will be keeping about a third of your initial award (up to a certain max....believe it varies from state to state.)  The quest for SSDI was not nearly as tedious and stressful as the one for (private) disability.
I recommend that you try not to stress.  Get alot of folders and keep all correspondence grouped by category.....primary physician/cardiologist/medical records...etc.  It will take time, try to remain focused.  I had to meet with unknown doctors for evaluation purposes.  Try to keep all appointments and be on-time.  Stay reserved when asking your docs for paperwork/forms/statements. 
You may need to know how to contact the records departments at docs offices.
Be prepared to be attentive to e-mails/faxes.  Remember that doctors tire of the endless paperwork....but also know that if they support your position...they have to get involved.

I do not know all of your medical history, but seems that you are eligible.  Once accepted you need to enroll in Medicare part d....prescription drug benefit.

On a more personal note, I am taking Crestor, Effient, Monopril, Toprol, Zetia, baby aspirin, fish oil capsules and coq10.  Recently switched from Atripla to Complera for HIV management.  Had sleeping difficulties with Sustiva component.  The COQ10 seems to be a good addition....may have helped with lipoatrophy and cell regeneration. 

Best of luck and stay well :)

JR Gabbard:
Hi libvet,
As a lawyer who works on these kinds of cases, I can tell you in no uncertain terms that when I have a client whose doctor tells them they need to be on disability, I am a very happy camper.  It means that the medical evidence will probably be there, and if it isn't the doctor will be cooperative in helping me get it.
You  need a representative, definitely.  Your rep doesn't necessarily need to be a lawyer, but lawyer or not, make sure they have plenty of experience with SSDI/SSI.  Other than that, be prepared for a long wait.
In the meantime, for your reading pleasure, here are some informational links:
This is a pamphlet put out by SSA specifically for people with HIV/AIDS, and
these are the Listings for HIV (HIV is 14.07) and
these are the Listings for cardiovascular disabilities since it sounds like that's where your issues lie.
Best of luck, and keep us posted on your progress!


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