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Is Long COVID a Social Security Disability?

Published on August 24th, 2023

An Answer to Your Question from Miller Disability Law

Long COVID, also known as post-acute sequelae of SARS-CoV-2 infection (PASC), refers to a range of persistent and often debilitating symptoms that continue to affect individuals even after the acute phase of a COVID-19 infection has passed.

These symptoms can persist for weeks or months, significantly impacting the quality of life of those affected. Long COVID is not limited to individuals who experienced severe initial illness; even those with mild or asymptomatic cases of COVID-19 can develop these prolonged symptoms.

Common symptoms of Long COVID

The most common of these include:

  • Fatigue: Persistent and profound fatigue is a hallmark of Long COVID. It can be debilitating and affect a person’s ability to carry out everyday activities.
  • Shortness of Breath: Some individuals continue to experience breathing difficulties, even after the initial infection has resolved. This may be accompanied by a feeling of chest tightness.
  • Brain Fog and Cognitive Issues: Cognitive problems such as difficulty concentrating, memory issues, and mental fog are commonly reported by individuals with Long COVID.
  • Joint and Muscle Pain: Prolonged joint and muscle pain, often described as myalgia and arthralgia, can be a persistent symptom in Long COVID cases.
  • Chest Pain: Chest discomfort or pain may persist after the initial infection and can be a cause for concern.
  • Loss of Taste and Smell: Some individuals experience a prolonged loss of taste and smell, known as anosmia and dysgeusia, respectively.
  • Heart Palpitations and Chest Discomfort: Cardiovascular symptoms like heart palpitations, racing heart, and chest discomfort are reported by some Long COVID sufferers.
  • Headaches: Recurring headaches or migraines are among the persistent symptoms experienced by some individuals.
  • Sleep Disturbances: Insomnia or disrupted sleep patterns are common complaints in Long COVID cases.
  • Anxiety and Depression: Mental health issues such as anxiety and depression can arise or worsen due to the ongoing physical symptoms and their impact on daily life.
  • Gastrointestinal Issues: Digestive problems like nausea, diarrhea, and abdominal pain can persist beyond the acute phase of the illness.
  • Skin Rashes and Hair Loss: Some individuals experience skin rashes and hair loss as part of Long COVID symptoms.

It’s important to note that Long COVID symptoms can vary widely from person to person, and new symptoms may emerge as our understanding of the condition evolves.

Similarly, while any COVID case carries the potential to evolve into Long COVID, it tends to rear its head more prominently in cases of severe infections. Encouragingly, individuals who are fully vaccinated against the virus display a decreased likelihood of developing Long COVID. Even if it does develop, their cases generally tend to be milder.

Social Security Disability Qualify as Long COVID

Does Long COVID Qualify as a Disability?

The resounding answer is yes. The Civil Rights Office of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has officially declared that a Long COVID illness that substantially restricts one or more “major life activities” meets the criteria for disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

What exactly constitutes these “major life activities”? They encompass:

  • Self-care tasks such as bathing and dressing
  • Manual activities including cooking and eating
  • Verbal communication and breathing
  • Physical mobility encompassing walking, standing, reaching, bending, sitting, and lifting
  • Cognitive functions like learning, reading, concentrating, and thinking
  • Interpersonal interactions

Navigating Social Security Disability Assistance

In case you’re not already familiar with them, the Social Security Administration (SSA) extends two types of disability assistance:

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)

This benefit is extended to those who have previously worked and contributed Social Security taxes prior to becoming disabled, provided that the disability has persisted for a minimum of 12 months. Dependents, including minor children residing at home, may also receive benefits.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

Individuals afflicted by a medical condition anticipated to hinder their ability to work for a duration of 12 months or more may be eligible for SSI. The specific amount disbursed hinges on household income and financial resources.

How to Apply for Disability Benefits

The process involves scheduling an appointment at your local SSA office or opting for online application submission. By whatever means you apply, it’s worth noting that several Long COVID claims submitted to the SSA might encounter rejection due to the duration of symptoms being less than 12 months.

Furthermore, a standardized diagnosis procedure for Long COVID is absent, and the SSA hasn’t yet issued specific assessment guidelines for these claims.

Enhancing Your Prospects for SSA Disability Assistance

For people with Long COVID, we strongly recommend the following to improve your chances of security Social Security disability assistance:

  • Apply Early: Anticipate a substantial waiting period for SSA responses due to the backlog of applications. Kick-start the process as soon as possible and brace yourself for a significant wait.
  • Document Thoroughly: Maintain meticulous records of your ongoing struggle with Long COVID, encompassing symptom duration, severity, and frequency. Keep a comprehensive log of medical visits and treatments received.
  • Understand Qualifications: Gauge that your condition is likely to prevent work for 12 months or longer. Additionally, your financial records should reflect that you’re unable to engage in substantial gainful activity (SGA). For a non-blind individual in 2023, this entails a monthly income of less than $1,470 to qualify for SSDI benefits.

Miller Disability Law – Your Social Security Disability Lawyer in Knoxville, TN

In addition to the three suggestions listed above, we would like to add a fourth: Seek guidance from experienced Social Security disability attorneys.

In Knoxville and adjacent areas of Eastern Tennessee, Miller Disability Law has a well-earned reputation as a prominent beacon of legal assistance. With an extensive history of assisting numerous individuals in Eastern Tennessee secure vital Social Security disability assistance, we’re eager to extend our support to you as well.

Your initial consultation with our law firm comes at no cost, and in the meantime, you can get more information here on questions related to Social Security disability.

If you’re grappling with the persistent repercussions of Long COVID, we urge you to contact our law office today. We hope to have the opportunity to meet you and work with you in devising an effective strategy to secure the disability assistance you deserve.

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