If you’re suffering from the long-term effects of COVID-19, you may be eligible for Social Security disability or Supplemental Security Income benefits. Our attorneys are here to help get the benefits you need.
The ramifications of the coronavirus pandemic have affected every facet of our lives, particularly for COVID-19 long haulers. Thousands of people who were diagnosed with COVID-19 are still struggling months later with the effects of the disease making it difficult to keep up with the demands of their jobs. If you are suffering from long-term COVID-19 complications, you may have a viable claim for Social Security disability (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits.
What Is ‘Long Haul’ COVID-19?
Even when the most severe COVID-19 symptoms have passed, many COVID-19 patients continue to have residual, frequently debilitating symptoms that can lead to a long-term disability. Thus, the phrase “long haulers” has been used to characterize those who have been dealing with COVID-19 symptoms for long after being diagnosed. Because there is limited research into COVID-19’s long-term health effects, very little is known about the actual cause of long COVID. However, a wide range of symptoms have been reported by COVID-19 long haulers, including disabling physical and cognitive symptoms.
The following are some of the most common long-term symptoms:
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Joint pain
- Chest pain
- Memory, concentration, or sleep problems
- Muscle pain or headache
- Irregular heartbeat
- Loss of smell or taste
- Depression or anxiety
- Worsened symptoms after physical or mental activities
Additionally, multiple organs including the heart, kidneys, lungs, skin, and brain, may be damaged in individuals suffering from long COVID.
Do Long Haul COVID Symptoms Qualify Someone For Disability Benefits?
Long COVID can be classified as a disability under different civil rights statutes, according to guidance from the HHS Office for Civil Rights (OCR) and the Department of Justice. Therefore, an individualized assessment is required to evaluate if a person’s long-term COVID condition or any of its symptoms significantly limits an essential life activity.
The Social Security Administration (SSA) released an Emergency Message addressing how it will deal with COVID-based claims. More specifically, SSA will be using the following requirements when evaluating whether a COVID-based claim qualifies a person by disability benefits:
(A) objective medical evidence is required to establish a medically determinable impairment (MDI) – for COVID, an MDI is established with: (1) a report of a positive viral test for SARS-CoV-2, (2) a diagnostic test with findings consistent with COVID-19 (e.g., chest x-ray with lung abnormalities) or (3) a diagnosis of COVID-19 with signs consistent with COVID-19 (e.g., fever, cough), and a positive antibody test alone does not establish COVID-19 as an MDI;
(B) once COVID-19 is established as an MDI, a determination must be made regarding the severity (i.e., the severity of COVID-19, one or more new MDIs caused by COVID-19 or any other MDI that has worsened due to COVID-19) and duration (i.e., the inability to perform substantial gainful activity (SGA) due to an MDI that lasts or is expected to last for a continuous period of at least 12 months, unless the MDI is expected to result in death) requirements (the duration requirement is where most cases based on COVID-19 fall short, which is why long-haul COVID-19 cases, one or more new MDIs caused by COVID-19 or the worsening of an existing MDI due to COVID-19 may be used to meet the 12-month duration requirement);
(C) once the severity and duration requirements are established, SSA must determine if COVID-19, any new MDI caused by COVID-19, or any MDI that has worsened due to COVID-19 meets or medically equals a Listing (COVID-19 does not have a specific Listing, so it cannot meet a Listing by itself, but it can equal a Listing as an unlisted impairment or in combination with other impairments, such as respiratory, cardiovascular, renal or neurological impairments); and
(D) if a Listing is not met or medically equaled, SSA will then determine the individual’s residual functional capacity (RFC), which represents the most the individual can do despite limitations caused by the MDI.
To read the full Emergency Message, click here.
How To Apply For Disability Benefits With Long COVID?
To apply for SSDI benefits, you can call the Social Security Administration at 1-800-772-1213, or you may file online at www.ssa.gov. You can also make an appointment at the Social Security District Office in your area.
If you need assistance filing a claim, our Raleigh disability lawyers are ready to help. Contact us today by calling 919-781-1107 or completing a free consultation form online.
What To Do If Denied Disability Benefits For Long COVID?
Even in normal times, the process for getting disability benefits is exceptionally stringent and hard to navigate. However, the system is particularly ill-equipped to handle COVID long-haulers. They experience a wide range of symptoms that defy easy documentation and often evolve in ways medical providers don’t yet understand. If you have a long-term COVID disability claim that is denied, you have a right to appeal.
Our Raleigh Disability Lawyers Are Here To Help You
Applying for SSDI is a time-consuming and complicated process. However, the benefits it can provide are well worth the effort. Claimants face new challenges as a result of the pandemic, but they are not insurmountable.
If you’re unable to work due to COVID-19 complications, you’ll need a qualified Social Security disability lawyer to represent you. At Henson Fuerst, we are passionate about helping clients who suffer from COVID-19’s long-term effects recover much needed disability benefits. Call us today at (919) 781-1107 or complete a free initial consultation form. There’s no obligation, and our phone lines are open 24/7.