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COVID-19 Long-Haulers Eligible For Disability Protections and Other Accommodations

While most COVID-19 patient’s symptoms subside within a couple of weeks, others experience long-term effects from the disease such as respiratory problems, brain fog, chronic pain, and fatigue. As a result, President Joe Biden stated on the 31st anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act that those suffering from lingering effects of the disease will have access to disability protections under federal law.

COVID-19 May Reshape the Disability System in the US

Long haulers are defined as those who experience symptoms that last weeks or months after contracting COVID-19. Researchers estimate that about 10% of 

COVID-19 patients suffer long-term problems. However, the intensity of these symptoms and how and when they manifest can vary greatly. Some long haulers cannot return to work full-time or at all due to their persistent symptoms. Therefore, many are turning to Social Security disability benefits for help.

 The US Departments of Health and Human Services and Justice recently published guidance clarifying that COVID-19 symptoms might be considered a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act. However, according to the guidelines, long-haul COVID-19 is not always necessarily a disability, and an individualized evaluation is required to establish whether a person’s illness or symptoms restrict a significant life activity, such as work.

Even if a small percentage of long-haul haulers or their families file for disability insurance, the system, which now serves 8.1 million disabled employees and 1.4 million family members, may become overwhelmed. Before COVID-19, obtaining disability benefits was difficult and time-consuming. While it’s unclear how many additional individuals may require these benefits, the system is particularly ill-equipped to deal with COVID long-haulers, who suffer from a wide range of symptoms that medical professionals aren’t informed of yet, creating the potential for denied claims. 

Filing for Disability Benefits with Long COVID

While there is no official listing for post-COVID syndrome, Social Security may determine that your symptoms qualify you for benefits just as much as someone who satisfies the criteria.

To be eligible for SSA disability benefits, an individual must demonstrate that they are unable to engage in “substantial, gainful employment” for at least 12 months or will die as a direct result of their disability. Unfortunately, long haulers often lack the medical proof required to show this, as many have only been sick for a year and have symptoms that are difficult to detect with standard screening instruments, blood tests, or imaging. Therefore, It’s essential to continue to see your doctor or experts throughout the application process to record your symptoms and how your restrictions prevent you from living an everyday life or working. Additionally, you’ll want a doctor to evaluate and diagnose any underlying causes that are making you ill, not just the post-COVID condition.

Contact Henson Fuerst If You Need Help Filing a Disability Claim

Although the President’s proclamation and the agencies’ informal recommendations may not have the same weight as notice-and-comment rulemaking, they are nevertheless significant. These agencies are collaborating to ensure that Americans with long COVID have access to the rights and resources provided by the disability law, such as workplace, school, and healthcare accommodations.

If you are suffering from the long-term effects of COVID-19, contact our Raleigh Social Security disability attorneys to learn how we may be able to assist you. Call us today at (919) 781-1107 or complete a free initial consultation form. 

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The Henson Fuerst attorneys are always ready to talk to you about your case at absolutely no cost to you. We’ll answer questions that you may have and help you get back on your feet.

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