The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other government health agencies now know a great deal more about COVID-19 than they did at the start of the pandemic. They now know while most people recover after being infected with the virus, some people continue to experience lingering health issues that may continue for months or years after recovering from the initial effects of COVID.

The terms “post-COVID conditions,” “long-haul COVID,” and “long COVID” are now used to describe this latest discovery about the effect of the virus on people’s lives. It is not only people who were severely ill with the virus who develop long-term effects of COVID.

According to the CDC, 40% of the adult population of the United States has had COVID-19, and 19% of them continue to have long COVID. People with mild COVID illnesses and some with no symptoms of COVID at all are as likely as severely ill patients to develop long COVID.

If you or a loved one have long COVID, disability benefits may be available through the Supplemental Security Income and Social Security Disability Insurance programs. As you continue reading, keep in mind that a disability lawyer at NY Disability can assist you with all matters related to Social Security disability benefits.

What are the symptoms of long COVID?

Long COVID may appear in a person as a continuation of symptoms from the initial infection that do not go away sometimes weeks after the person no longer tests positive for the virus, or a person may develop new or returning symptoms after recovering from the infection. Long COVID lasts months or years after being infected and can cause COVID disability in a patient.

Some of the common symptoms of long COVID include:

  • Fatigue
  • Symptoms worsen following physical or mental exertion
  • Fever
  • Difficulty breathing and other respiratory symptoms

People with long COVID have also exhibited mental health conditions, including sleep disorders, loss of smell and taste, joint and muscle pain, and heart irregularities.

COVID disability benefits

If the symptoms associated with long COVID affect your ability to function in the workplace, you may be eligible for COVID disability benefits through the Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income programs. Before filing an application on your own for SSD benefits for long COVID, consider hiring a disability lawyer at NY Disability to represent you. Claims for benefits based on long COVID are relatively new and may require the knowledge and skills of an experienced SSD lawyer.

The Social Security Administration issued written guidance about how it plans to process applications for benefits based on long-haul COVID. The definition of disabled that the SSA uses when processing applications for disability benefits for SSDI and adults applying for SSI disability require proof of a medically determinable physical or mental impairment that is expected to last for at least 12 months or result in death.

The impairment or impairments must cause you to be unable to engage in substantial gainful activity. These is typical work-related tasks, including walking, sitting, lifting, standing, climbing stairs, and remembering and following instructions.

According to the guidance distributed by the SSA for handling applications for benefits for disability benefits related to COVID-19, establishing the existence of a medically determinable impairment related to COVID and long COVID requires the following:

  • A positive viral test for SARS-CoV-2,
  • Diagnostic testing, such as an X-ray of the chest showing lung abnormalities or
  • Diagnosis of COVID-19 with symptoms that include fever, cough, sore throat, and other COVID-related symptoms.

It’s important to note that the SSA specifically cautions that a positive COVID test does not on its own establish that a person has the virus.

The SSA recognizes the distinction between a claim for disability benefits from a person who becomes ill after exposure to the virus and recovers with no residual symptoms and an application submitted by a person with long COVID. The person who makes a full and complete recovery would not meet the duration requirement of 12 months, but someone with long COVID could have an impairment lasting more than a year.

What can you do to build a strong claim for long-haul COVID benefits?

If you have ongoing or recurring symptoms consistent with long COVID, go to your doctor for an examination and diagnosis. Explain to you4 doctor the limitations caused by the symptoms you are experiencing and how they affect your ability to work.

Take all medications prescribed by your health care providers and follow the treatment plan they recommend for you. Keep a diary to note when you have symptoms and the effect they have on you at home and at work.

Learn more about long COVID from an SSD lawyer

If long COVID prevents you from working, COVID disability benefits may be available through SSI and SSDI. Schedule a free consultation with a disability lawyer at NY Disability to learn about the options available to you.