HPV and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits
Many individuals who suffer from a sexually transmitted disease may have symptoms which make it difficult to work. Recently on our disability forum we had a user ask, "If I have the human papillomavirus (HPV) can I receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits?"
What is HPV?
Genital human papillomavirus (also called HPV) is the most common sexually transmitted infection (STI) in the United States. There are a variety of HPV viruses, and they can infect the throat, mouth and genital area of both males and females.
Unfortunately, many individuals who have the virus may not experience any symptoms and may spread the virus to others without knowing it. HPV is generally spread through sexual contact, including oral, vaginal and anal sex.
The most common symptom of HPV is genital warts which appear within months of contracting the virus. Other individuals may develop cancer after decades of contact with another infected individual. It is estimated over 79 million Americans are currently infected with HPV. About 14 million people become newly infected each year.
A greater concern for infected individuals is developing cancer from HPV. Common cancers can include cervical, vaginal, vulvar, penile, anal, and oropharyngeal cancers.
Can I get SSI for HPV?
Supplemental Security Income is given to individuals who are aged (65 years of age and older), disabled or blind and who are unable to work for at least 12 continuous months. SSI is also provided only to claimants who have very limited income and resources. If you are disabled but your income and resource level is above the allowable SSI limit you will not qualify for SSI regardless of the severity of your condition.
Now to address the claimant’s question, because HPV generally only causes genital warts that can be treated and do not interfere with the claimant’s ability to work, simply having HPV will not be sufficient to be considered disabled. The SSA will expect for your condition to be 100% disabling.
Cancer and HPV
HPV can, however, lead to very serious cancers such as cervical or penile cancers, and claimants with these conditions may become so sick they are unable to work. So does the SSA decide if you are disabled? They will review your cancer and determine if it is as severe as a listing in their SSA listing of impairments. This means you must not only be diagnosed with a condition but the symptoms must also be as severe as a listing. For example, most of the listings for cancer can be found under listing 13.00 Malignant Neoplastic Diseases – Adult in the SSA Listing of Impairments.
If your cancer is not listed or is not as severe as a listing you will have to prove you do not have the residual capacity to work. This is done through a medical vocational allowance. Using this process the SSA will determine if you can find other work given your age, work history, education and transferrable work skills.
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