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Disability Benefits for Long COVID

Monday, April 4, 2022

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on the lives of millions of Americans. Most COVID patients recover within a matter of days or weeks, but healthcare professionals are increasingly concerned about a small number of patients who develop long-term COVID systems, and have aptly named the phenomenon “long COVID.” Individuals suffering long COVID symptoms that prevent them from working should consider contacting a Long Island disability lawyer to check their eligibility for Social Security disability benefits. 

What Is “Long Covid?” 

Long COVID — officially known as “post-acute sequelae SARS-CoV-2 infection” (PASC) — is a novel and little-understood condition. It can occur in any COVID patient but is more common among those 70 years of age or older (22%) than it is for those between the ages of 18 and 49 (10%). Long COVID symptoms generally are identical to those of ordinary COVID. What differentiates the condition is that, rather than lasting one to two weeks, the symptoms of long COVID can persist for several weeks or even months. Such symptoms include: 

  • Fatigue 
  • Brain fog
  • Cough 
  • Fever or chills
  • Shortness of breath
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache 
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Diarrhea

COVID vaccination can reduce the odds of developing long COVID by about 50%, but the condition can strike the vaccinated and unvaccinated alike. 

Long COVID Is Considered a Disability Under the Americans with Disabilities Act 

The Biden Administration has taken notice of the concerning rise in long COVID cases. In July 2021, the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Justice joined forces to issue guidance stating that long COVID can be a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). To qualify, the patient’s long COVID must substantially limit one or more “major life activities,” such as caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, seeing and hearing, eating, sleeping, walking, learning, reading, and communicating with others. Patients whose long COVID qualifies as a disability under the ADA are entitled to the same protections as all others covered by the act — namely, the right to be from discrimination in public accommodations.

Social Security Disability Benefits for Long COVID Sufferers

The ADA prohibits discrimination against long COVID patients but does not provide them with any financial benefits. For that, long COVID patients must seek Social Security disability benefits through the Social Security Administration (SSA). These benefits are available to individuals who suffer a severe disability that is expected to prevent them from working for at least six months or to result in their death.

The various conditions caused by long COVID generally are covered under the Social Security disability program, but proving that your disability is caused by COVID can be difficult. SSA determinations of eligibility are intensely evidence-based, but not all long COVID symptoms (such as general fatigue and brain fog) show up on medical tests. It can also be challenging to even obtain such evidence, as a treatment for long COVID often requires the coordination of many specialists whose waiting lists for appointments can be extensive. 

If you think you may qualify for Social Security disability benefits, please contact a Long Island disability lawyer. 

Tips for Applying for Social Security Disability Benefits for Long COVID

Obtaining Social Security benefits for long COVID is difficult, but not impossible, and there are several steps you can take to ease the disability benefits application process.

  1. Start early: Applying for Social Security disability benefits is a lengthy process. While the SSA tries to process initial applications within about three months, not many claims are approved at the initial stage. Requesting a reconsideration or appealing a denial can add many months to the timeline. 
  2. Document everything: Keep track of your symptoms, even if they cannot be proven by a medical test. For example, if you suffer migraines, write down when they occur, how often they occur, how severe they are, and how they affect your daily life. 
  3. Monitor your application: Stay on top of your application’s progress and respond to requests from the SSA promptly. If the SSA cannot contact you or obtain the information they need, your claim may be denied. 
  4. Hire an attorney: Applying for Social Security benefits is difficult, especially for novel illnesses like long COVID. An attorney can guide you through the maze of federal regulations and help you prevent missteps. 

Contact a Long Island Disability Lawyer for More Information

The best way to maximize your chances of being approved for disability benefits is with the assistance of an experienced attorney. To get started, please contact a Long Island disability lawyer at Turley, Redmond & Rosasco by using our online form or by calling us at 516-745-5666 (Garden City), 631-582-3700 (Ronkonkoma), or 631-399-0400 (Shirley/Riverhead).

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