To date, there have been more than 28 million cases of COVID-19 reported in the United States. While scientists continue to learn more about the deadly disease every day, there is still much that remains a mystery due to the novel nature of the virus.
For those that have contracted COVID-19, also known as coronavirus, the path to recovery can be very different. Some individuals have very few symptoms and recover within a few days, while others have dealt with the after-effects for numerous months. There are also concerning conditions that are being linked to having COVID-19.
Does Having COVID Qualify You For Disability?
Given the varied path that COVID-19 has taken as information is being gathered about the disease, the Social Security Administration (SSA) has been slow to provide guidance to individuals dealing with severe cases. Applying for social security disability (SSDI) due to COVID-19 is unfortunately not a clear path right now.
Social security disability is offered for individuals who have become disabled and are no longer able to do the work that they previously did. This is also considered long-term care, as part of the approval process for SSDI is that the individual will be unlikely to return to work within a 12-month time period.
Given that COVID-19 is just now entering its twelfth month of existence, it is impossible to say how long a person may be unable to work due to the illness. There also appears to be a difference between long-haulers and individuals who have additional ailments that are linked to COVID-19.
COVID Long-Haulers and Disability
Individuals who are experiencing illness long after testing negative for COVID-19 are considered “long haulers.” They may have recovered from the most serious effects of the disease, but haven’t gotten back to 100% health. It is estimated that around 10% of COVID-19 patients become long-haulers.
Some of the common symptoms of the COVID Long-Hauler include the following:
- Ongoing cough
- Shortness of breath
- Body aches and joint pain
- Loss of taste and smell
- Extreme fatigue
While long-haulers may have a more difficult time applying for disability benefits, every situation is unique and every case is evaluated on its own merit. Consult a disability attorney if you have questions. With more time, more distinctions around COVID and disability are sure to come to light.
COVID Complications and Disability
Potentially most concerning with COVID-19 patients is the rising data surrounding COVID and a list of complications. Even after testing negative for COVID, many people have been found to have serious, and potentially permanent health issues that likely originated with the disease.
Some of the highest risk and most concerning complications that have been diagnosed include major organ diseases. Some of those recognized by the CDC include:
- Inflammation of the heart
- Lung function abnormalities
- Acute kidney injury
- Skin rash
- Hair loss
- Smell and taste issues
- Difficulty with memory and concentration
- Depression and anxiety
Heart damage has been reported in approximately one in five survivors of COVID-19 according to some recent studies. While some of these are due to pre-existing conditions, many individuals have had not pre-diagnosed heart issues but now have inflammation of the heart after recovering from coronavirus.
While information continues to be sorted out around COVID-19 and long-term conditions and illness, it’s important to be an advocate for yourself. Making your employer aware of your problems will continue to provide a framework for your application in the future.
The same can be said for other abnormalities that have plagued individuals with complications associated to COVID. People that are otherwise healthy and have not had diagnosed issues have been found to have serious health problems long after testing negative for COVID-19.
In addition, anyone that needed to go on a ventilator for an extended period of time while recovering from COVID may be at risk of post-intensive care syndrome (PICS). This can lead to memory problems, muscle weakness, depression, and other issues.
Your COVID Condition and Applying For Benefits
While information continues to be sorted out around COVID-19 and long-term conditions and illness, it’s important to be an advocate for yourself. Making your employer aware of your problems will continue to provide a framework for your application in the future. This could include social security disability or workers’ compensation, depending on the situation.
And if your condition is so bad that you cannot work now, you do not have to wait – consult an attorney to see what your disability application options may be today.
Tabak Law is happy to help understand your condition and see if there is a route to disability benefits for you.