Public Benefits Access
This category covers the ability of people with HIV to secure Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), Supplemental Security Income (SSI), and other public benefits. Because HIV disease and its treatment can be debilitating, and because many of those affected are low-income, access to disability benefits for people with HIV is essential. Included in this section are topics such as meeting the Social Security Administration (SSA) definitions and conditions ("listings") of disability necessary for benefits eligibility, and how to handle SSA's reliance on reports of an applicant's/recipient's unresolved warrant to block benefits (the "fleeing felon" issue). Other materials address disability caused by medication side effects, citizenship requirements, benefits for prisoners, compassionate allowances for certain conditions, SSA medical reports, and residual functional capacity (RFC).
Fowlkes v. Adamec, 432 F.3d 90 (2nd Cir. 2005)
The Second Circuit Court of Appeals found that SSA's guidelines for declaring a person a fleeing felon were inconsistent with the relevant statute and regulations in that they did not require proof of intent to evade justice. The court, not SSA, is permitted to make a finding that the party is fleeing prosecution. Benefits cannot be suspended from the date a warrant itself was issued, but rather from the date in which a person is officially declared a fleeing felon.
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Physical Residual Functional Capacity Questionnaire
This questionnaire, provided by attorney Leslie Kline-Capelle, formerly of Health Advocates, is intended to assist with a determination of disability for purposes of obtaining social security disability benefits. In order to be effective, the form must be completed by a medical doctor who is treating the individual applying for benefits. Although not HIV/AIDS specific, the form, if properly completed, may be a helpful piece of evidence in a case being heard by an administrative law judge (ALJ). Click here to download. A similar form for assessing mental residual functional capacity is availble here.
SSI Benefits Eligibility: Underpayments to Prisoners and Other Check Related Prisoner Issues, Social Security Administration
This SSA manual excerpt discusses the appropriate methods of providing SSI underpayments to prisoners, alternative methods for paying underpayments while the prisoner is incarcerated, and the procedures for redeeming SSI benefit checks that are received at correctional institutions. Generally, prisoners are not eligible for SSI during their incarceration. SSA must pay underpayments to prisoners incurred during their period of eligible. As a matter of policy, SSA exhausts every alternate method of payment before issuing a paper check to an incarcerated person at an institution because such payments cause severe public relations problems. Instead, SSA will request that the prisoner have the checked issued to a bank account or obtain a temporary mailing address for the prisoner other than the institution. The prisoner has to agree to these alternatives—if not, SSA must issue the underpayment to the recipient at the correctional institution. Click here to download.