The world is still learning about the long-term implications of the COVID-19 pandemic. Yet much has been discovered within the past several years that medical professionals can use to understand both short-term and long-term health effects on those who contract the virus.
Some may suffer long-term health issues resulting from COVID-19, called “long-haul COVID,” which may become disabling and prevent them from working.
Those with long-haul COVID may have conditions that qualify them for Social Security disability benefits. However, not all who suffer long-term issues from the virus will qualify. The Social Security Administration (SSA) does not yet officially consider COVID-19 a disability. The path from diagnosis to winning benefits isn’t guaranteed, and depends on the severity and nature of your specific situation.
Social Security disability lawyers can help long-haul COVID patients who are disabled and cannot work to navigate the process of seeking benefits.
Nearly two-thirds of those who apply for Social Security disability benefits are initially denied and must appeal the decision.
Since COVID-19 is a relatively new virus that may affect people differently, having a clear understanding of what is and what isn’t considered a disability for Social Security benefits will give you the best chance of winning your claim.
Here’s what you need to know about when Social Security disability covers long-haul COVID, and how Social Security disability lawyers can help.
Table of Contents:
- Challenges of Proving a Long COVID Disability
- Qualifying for Social Security Disability
- How Social Security Disability Lawyers Can Help Long-Haul COVID Sufferers
Challenges of Proving a Long COVID Disability
One of the main difficulties of proving a long COVID disability for Social Security benefits is that it’s a relatively new condition.
Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), long-haul COVID-19 can be considered a disability.
COVID-19 is not specifically listed as a type of disability that qualifies you for Social Security benefits. Rather, you must use medical evidence to prove that the long-term health effects caused by COVID-19 are severely disabling enough to prevent you from working.
You’ll also face the challenge of proving your disability will prevent you from working for at least a year. Many have contracted the virus recently enough that they haven’t been out of work for at least 12 months. Since the virus affects some people mildly and some more severely, with a myriad of potential long-term conditions, it will depend on the strength of your medical evidence and the specifics of your case.
Winning Social Security disability benefits can be a long and difficult process even with listed, clear-cut disabilities. The complex nature of COVID-19-related disabilities adds an extra layer of challenges.
The right Social Security disability lawyer can help you navigate the specifics of your claim and gather the necessary evidence to prove your claim.
Qualifying for Social Security Disability
Long-haul COVID can cause a variety of symptoms and health conditions, including:
- Difficulty concentrating
- Difficulty breathing
- Headaches and dizziness
- Heart palpitations and chest pain
- Persistent cough
- Joint and muscle pain
- Damage to internal organs
- Neurological damage
- Circulatory issues
- Depression, anxiety, and other lasting mental health conditions
These issues may severely limit you from doing normal day-to-day activities such as walking, bending, lifting, breathing, concentrating, interacting with others, and working.
While there is no specific listing for COVID-19, the Social Security Administration may award benefits based on certain types of medical proof.
Currently, the SSA requires one of the following:
- Positive viral test for SAR-CoV-2 (not an antibody test)
- Diagnostic test consistent with COVID (ie., a chest x-ray)
- Diagnosis of COVID with signs consistent with COVID (ie., fever and cough)
Beyond this, your disability must be severe enough to prevent you from working for at least 12 months or be expected to result in your death. This is based on either meeting one of the SSA’s listings, such as for a respiratory disorder, or your overall Residual Functional Capacity (RFC).
RFC is the most amount of work you can do with the physical or mental limitations caused by your condition, based on your complete medical history.
How Social Security Disability Lawyers Can Help Long-Haul COVID Sufferers
The fact that long-haul COVID can be disabling, yet doesn’t meet a specific Social Security disability listing, means facing additional challenges in proving your claim. You may be initially denied and need to go through an appeals process that can take months, or even years.
Yet with the right Social Security Disability lawyers on your side, you can maximize your chances of winning benefits at each stage of your case.
Disability lawyers can provide critical insight and representation, including these benefits:
- Your case will be taken more seriously by the SSA and the judge when you have representation.
- A local attorney knows the details of the system and the people involved.
- You won’t omit important information that may help you win your benefits.
- They’ll represent you in a hearing and will help you prepare your statement.
- You won’t miss important deadlines for filing documents and appeals.
- A disability attorney is only paid if you win your claim.
- A legal team looking out for your best interests brings peace of mind.
- You’re more likely to win benefits with legal representation.
In most cases you won’t pay an up-front attorney’s fee for Social Security disability cases, and will only owe a percentage of your initial backpay should you win your claim, which is strictly federally regulated. If you don’t win your case, you won’t owe this fee.
Consult an attorney as early as possible in the process, in order to ensure you give yourself the best chance possible of winning benefits for your long-haul COVID disability.
If your SSDI claim has been denied, Affleck and Gordon can help. We’ve been helping disabled people in Georgia just like you for over 45 years. Once you have applied online for benefits, sign up for a free case evaluation here, and call us (404) 990-3945.