The development of vaccines and new types of treatment protocols mean that people who do develop COVID-19 generally get better and have shorter recovery periods than at any time since the start of the pandemic. However, some people are not as fortunate and either develop new or have recurring symptoms.
So-called “long-haulers” have COVID-related symptoms that continue to persist. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services uses the term “long COVID” to describe this situation and classifies it as a disability covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act. If you have long term COVID disability, you may be entitled to disability benefits through a long-term disability policy or through Social Security disability.
To help you to know what rights and long term COVID benefit may be available to you, NY Disability offers the following information about long COVID and the types of benefit options available to you. When you finish reading through it, contact NY Disability to speak with an experienced disability lawyer during a free consultation and claim review.
What is long-term COVID?
Someone who had COVID-19 and continues to experience symptoms weeks or even months after their initial infection may be suffering from long COVID. Symptoms that may indicate that you have long COVID include:
- “Brain fog,” which is a term used for difficulty thinking or concentrating.
- Recurring headaches.
- Dizziness and feeling unsteady when standing.
- Difficulty breathing and shortness of breath.
- Chest pain, coughing.
- Depression and anxiety.
- Muscle and joint pain.
People with long COVID also may have damaged lungs, heart, kidneys, skin and other organs.
The federal government through the Health and Human Services Department characterizes long COVID as a physical or mental impairment. As a physical impairment, it affects respiratory, cardiovascular and other systems of the body. The emotional and mental-health issues, such as depression and anxiety, can make it a mental health impairment.
The disabling nature of long COVID results from the mental or physical impairments interfering with life and work activities, including reading, lifting, bending, standing, walking, speaking, breathing, learning, and communicating with others. Long-term COVID affects each person differently, so one person may have a substantial activity limitation while another person may only experience minor disability. Simply being diagnosed with long COVID does not mean that a person has a disability.
Proving long term disability due to long COVID
Whether you apply long term COVID disability benefits through a long-term disability insurance plan or through the Supplemental Security Income or Social Security Disability Insurance programs administered through the Social Security Administration, here are things to do to improve your chance of success:
- Obtain a diagnosis from a physician or other qualified medical professional.
- Follow all instructions your treating physician gives you, including taking prescribed medications and other parts of a treatment regime.
- Make sure your medical records are complete and show that you kept appointments with doctors.
- Maintain a journal or diary in which you keep track of how the COVID symptoms affect your daily activities both at home as well as at work on a day-to-day basis.
Your disability lawyer can help you to apply long term COVID disability benefits, but it helps when your medical records, journal and other supporting evidence clearly demonstrate that you have long COVID and that its symptoms cause you to be disabled and unable to work as you had prior to becoming ill.
Long-term disability insurance and long COVID
If you cannot work because of the lingering symptoms of long COVID and have a short-term or a long-term disability plan, they may provide benefits. Depending on how long your treating physician thinks you will be unable to return to work determines whether the claim should go through a long-term or short-term claim for benefits.
Social Security disability and long COVID
Social Security disability benefits may be available through SSI or SSD. If you have a work record of long enough duration to be eligible under the SSD program which covers workers who cannot work because of a disability that meets the criteria used by Social Security to determine that an applicant is disability. There is a five-month waiting period from the onset of disability until you can begin receiving monthly SSD benefits.
SSI also pays disability benefits, but you must have limited monthly income and very limited resources in order to qualify for the program. If you qualify for SSI, you also may be eligible for Medicaid benefits. SSD beneficiaries become eligible for Medicare, but they must wait 24 months before becoming eligible for the health insurance benefit.
Speak with a long COVID disability lawyer
The disability lawyers at NY Disability help people with all types of disability claims and can assist you to apply long term COVID disability. Contact them today to schedule a free consultation and claim review to learn more.