Social Security Expands AIDS Definition, Benefits
Reversing an earlier decision, the Social Security Administration has agreed to use a new, expanded definition of AIDS to determine who qualifies for disability benefits, Rep. Ted Weiss (D-N.Y.) said today.
The expanded definition, which becomes effective Sept. 1, is expected to increase the number of people eligible for automatic disability benefits, but officials are uncertain how many more.
Weiss told a hearing on Social Security services that the agency “would be reversing its earlier decision” not to follow guidelines adopted by the federal Centers for Disease Control.
Acquired immune deficiency syndrome destroys the body’s ability to fight infection, striking mainly homosexuals and intravenous drug abusers. Social Security officials said that about 14,000 AIDS victims have qualified for Social Security or supplemental Social Security Income disability benefits.
To qualify for the disability benefits under the old system, a person had to show signs of the AIDS virus as well as cancer or an “opportunistic” infection, such as pneumonia. Beginning in September, a person will quality if there is either dementia or wasting syndrome present with the AIDS virus.