a person collecting paperwork and preparing for HIV disability hearing

Disability Hearing Preparations

Stress is not good for our health, and I have been living in a state of stress. My re-evaluation for my disability is coming up. I am beyond nervous but trying to do my homework in preparation.

It has been 5 years since I have been placed on Social Security Disability. I have gone through various qualifications on the Social Security Administration website to see where I can be categorized.

I live with a weak immune system, chronic intractable pain, several mental health issues, and several long-term health conditions. Additionally, I have a full printer sheet of medications that I take for my various conditions.

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The SSA Blue Book

The Social Security Administration does offer a Blue Book of Adult Listings. This online Blue Book provides information on what conditions qualify for adult disability. Looking through the various considerations, I am starting to think that the only thing that was considered when I was previously approved for disability was my HIV/AIDS situation.1

HIV considerations

When I applied the first time, it was right after almost dying from PCP pneumonia. I was in the ICU for 2 weeks and a regular hospital room after that. We learned that my CD4 count was well below 50. When I tried to go back to work, I could not stay healthy for the life of me. I was constantly getting sick. Additionally, I was always exhausted.

While at the time we believed they looked at all of my health issues, when making their decision, I no longer believe that is the case. I believe that I quickly meet some of the HIC considerations listed out in the SSA Blue Book. Since my CD4 count was below 50, they did not have to look at anything else in order to approve my disability.

Current depression considerations

While looking through the SSA Blue Book, I noticed that I meet the qualifications listed for depressive disorders. I have been battling major depressive disorder for years, since my diagnosis actually.

The first portion of the depressive disorder qualification involves 5 out of 9 characteristics being met. Unfortunately, I meet 8 out of these 9 elements. These included things such as decreased energy and interest in activities, difficulty concentrating, feelings of worthlessness, and even thoughts of suicide.2

Both my psychiatrist and psychologist have a 2-part questionnaire that I fill out prior to my appointments that ask questions regarding these qualifications. My therapy has been going on since 2017, and I do not handle changes well at all.

One of my specialist did neurological tests which displayed slow responses to visual and cognitive stimuli. My reaction time was also slow. Additionally, my doctor found signs of lack of focus and in attention, as well as evidence of insomnia and anxiety. Overall, through everything mentioned in this area of the SSA Blue Book, I meet the qualifications for depressive disorder.

Disability hearing

Most of my doctors have already sent copies of my records over to the hearing office. I also have 2 letters written by 2 different doctors offices. These letters explain what I am treated for, and the doctors do not believe I should return to work in each.

I have been working on printing my over 600 pages of notes from my mental health doctors. I also need to go through these notes and pull out (highlight and tag) any pieces that may be supporting evidence for the conditions listed above. Backup has been called, in the form of my best friend. So hopefully, we can get through this disability hearing successfully.

I do not feel like I could successfully return to work yet. Between my pain and exhaustion levels, along with my depression I believe it would be setting me up for failure.

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