Are Covid-19 long-haulers eligible for Social Security disability benefits?

The immediate medical crisis has passed. You survived the initial COVID-19 infection and you’ve tested negative for the virus. Yet, you continue to have symptoms that significantly impact your life. Your doctor has identified you as a COVID long-hauler, and you may be eligible for Social Security disability benefits.

Who Is a COVID-19 Long-Hauler?

Covid-19 Long-Hauler With an Oxygen Monitor on Their FingerApproximately 10% of COVID-19 patients become long-haulers.

So far, researchers don’t know why some people suffer from long COVID and other people make full recoveries. Everyone who contracts COVID-19 is at risk of becoming a long-hauler. It doesn’t matter how old you are, whether you had a mild coronavirus infection or you were hospitalized with severe illness, or whether you have underlying conditions.

Some of the ongoing symptoms experienced by COVID long-haulers include:

  • Brain fog. Many COVID long-haulers experience brain fog. Brain fog can be debilitating and make a person confused, forgetful, or unable to concentrate.
  • Coughing and shortness of breath. Some people with long COVID continue to suffer respiratory complications.
  • Joint and muscle aches. This type of pain may make it challenging to sit in one position, lift anything heavy, perform repetitive movements, or even sleep comfortably.
  • Debilitating fatigue. Extreme tiredness is one of the most common symptoms of long COVID. This type of fatigue can interfere with a person’s regular activities and ability to work.
  • Headaches. Frequent or intense headaches may be debilitating. People with these types of headaches may be unable to do their work or go about their daily activities.
  • Sleep difficulties. Sleep disruptions may make everything in your life more difficult. You may not be able to drive or operate heavy machinery safely, and you may be unable to concentrate on your work.
  • Temperature dysregulation. Some long COVID sufferers may have trouble regulating their own body temperature. Temperature dysregulation may interfere with a person’s ability to work.

Medical experts don’t yet know whether long-haulers suffer permanent medical conditions from the novel coronavirus, but research is ongoing. Additionally, there isn’t much known about how to treat ongoing and persistent coronavirus symptoms. Long-haulers often go through neurological, cardiovascular, pulmonary, and respiratory tests, and they are often advised to rest, eat well, manage stress, and stay hydrated.

COVID-19 Long-Haulers May Qualify for Social Security Disability Benefits

Currently, the Social Security Administration is flagging electronically-submitted disability applications when an applicant alleges COVID-19 as a disability or the application gives the agency reason to believe the applicant has a medically determinable impairment of COVID-19. These flags exist to identify, track, and collect data on COVID-19 Social Security disability applications.

Despite these flags, the Social Security Administration is handling long COVID claims the same way as all other Social Security disability claims. Social Security disability applicants must convince the Social Security Administration that they have disabilities that make them unable to work for at least 12 months or are likely to result in death.

You may strengthen your disability application by:

  • Presenting objective medical evidence. Your medical records, including the results of any medical testing, are essential parts of your disability application.
  • Completing an honest and accurate Social Security disability application. Many initial disability applications are denied on technicalities. You may avoid a denial by submitting a complete and accurate application the first time you apply.
  • Talking to a Social Security disability lawyer. The Social Security disability application process can be overwhelming, but an experienced attorney can help you get the benefits you’ve earned.
  • Not giving up. If your initial application is denied, you may need to appeal your disability denial to get the Social Security disability benefits you deserve.

Our New England Social Security disability lawyers are committed to helping all long COVID sufferers get fair disability benefits. If you live in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, or New Hampshire, we encourage you to contact us today, by phone or through this website, to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with an experienced Social Security disability attorney.

 

John L. Keefe
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Founding Attorney, Massachusetts Social Security Disability Lawyer