Most people who recover from COVID-19 do not experience ongoing health problems. However, some people may experience ongoing symptoms and/or symptoms that come and go. They may experience symptoms four or more weeks after they first were infected with the COVID-19 virus.
Those suffering from ongoing COVID-19 symptoms are often said to have long COVID. Other names for this condition include long-haul COVID, post-COVID syndrome or post-acute COVID-19.
Long COVID symptoms can be debilitating for victims, making it difficult or impossible to work and limiting major life activities, like sleeping, concentrating, breathing, and more.
While long COVID is not listed in the Social Security Administration’s Blue Book, those suffering from this condition may be able to obtain federal disability benefits. However, obtaining benefits for long COVID is likely to be a complex task. That is why you should strongly consider working with an experienced attorney as you seek disability benefits.
Schmidt Kramer’s experienced Harrisburg Social Security Disability attorneys are ready to help you pursue benefits. There are no upfront fees for our services, and we do not get paid unless you receive benefits.
Symptoms of Long COVID
Long COVID can include a wide variety of symptoms that can affect victims physically, cognitively and psychologically. While people who became severely ill with COVID-19 may be more likely to have long-term symptoms, long COVID can happen even if you did not become severely ill when you contracted COVID-19. This is according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Some of the symptoms of long COVID may include:
- Shortness of breath
- Trouble breathing
- Trouble sleeping
- Changes in mood
- Brain fog/difficulty concentrating
- Rapid heart rate
- Dizziness, particularly when standing
- Autoimmune conditions affecting the lungs, heart, kidneys, skin and brain
- Damage to multiple organs
- Changes in your sense of taste or smell
- Muscle pain
- Joint pain
- Changes in menstrual cycle
- Poor blood flow caused by damage to the circulatory system
- Heart inflammation
- Increased anxiety
- Worsening symptoms after physical exertion, which can be referred to as post-exertional malaise)
- And more
Medical professionals are still learning more about post-COVID syndrome and the symptoms victims are experiencing. There may be other symptoms besides the ones listed here. It is not currently known how long people may suffer from long COVID.
How Could Those with Long COVID Qualify for Disability Benefits?
Even though long COVID is a newer condition, it has been classified as a disability under the Americans with Disability Act (ADA) in certain situations. If your symptoms significantly limit your ability to engage in at least one major life activity, it may be considered a disability under the ADA. Major life activities include things like:
- Getting dressed
- Interacting with others
However, you are not eligible for Social Security Disability benefits unless your condition meets the SSA criteria for a disability. Fortunately, the SSA has given disability claims examiners some general guidance on applications for benefits for long COVID. Applicants must prove they have:
- A medically determinable impairment that prevents you from working
- Symptoms that fit one of the listings in the SSD Blue Book
- OR have functional limitations that prevent you from working
Medically Determinable Impairment
You must provide evidence of a medically determinable impairment. The SSA will need you to provide one of the following:
- Positive viral test
- Diagnostic test consistent with COVID-19, such as a chest x-ray
- Medical diagnosis and symptoms that are consistent with COVID-19
You must also prove your impairment will prevent you from working for at least one year. However, it is important to note the SSA will consider more than just your symptoms when determining the duration of your illness.
For example, your symptoms may cause a new medically determinable impairment, such as an illness affecting a vital organ, like your kidneys. Evidence that long COVID has worsened an existing illness, such as an illness affecting your lungs, may also help show your condition will affect you for at least one year.
For some applicants, it may be unclear if or when long COVID symptoms may stop. In these situations, a decision on your application may be deferred for several months.
Symptoms Meet Disability Criteria
Your application must also show your symptoms fit the criteria of one of the listings in the SSD Blue Book. There is no listing for long COVID, but it is possible for COVID-19 symptoms to fit the criteria for another listing.
As COVID can affect the lungs, it may have caused you to develop a chronic respiratory disease. You would need to provide evidence that you suffer from the symptoms under a chronic respiratory disorder in the Blue Book (COPD, pneumonia, sleep apnea).
You may qualify under one of the following listings, depending on your symptoms:
- Chronic fatigue syndrome if you suffer from fatigue or endurance issues
- Postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome if you experience malfunctioning of your autonomic nervous system
- Cardiomyopathy, congestive heart failure or chronic pulmonary hypertension if you experience cardiovascular problems
- Myositis, myofascial pain or reactive arthritis if you have musculoskeletal aches and pains
You may still be eligible for benefits, even if you cannot prove your condition meets the criteria for one of the disability listings. You would need to show your condition causes functional limitations that prevent you from working. The SSA would need to do an assessment of your physical abilities (standing, sitting, crouching, walking, stooping, lifting, grasping items, etc.).
Long COVID can also affect your cognitive abilities. If you include this on your application, the SSA would need to do an assessment of your mental abilities, which may include your ability to:
- Paying attention to your work for long periods of time
- Understanding, remembering and following directions
- Recalling work tasks and procedures
- Tolerating the regular stress of your job
- And more
Contact Us to Discuss Your Claim for Disability Benefits
Give us a call today to discuss your application for disability benefits. We are also prepared to help you appeal a denied claim.
Our firm has been assisting Social Security Disability applicants for decades and we have a proven track record of securing benefits for our clients. Our client reviews page contains numerous reviews from Social Security Disability clients.
There are no upfront fees with our services, which means no risk in contacting us to discuss how we may be able to help you.
Schmidt Kramer. Licensed. Local. Lawyers. Call (717) 510-1782.