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Does Social Security Consider Long COVID as a Disabling Impairment?

February 1, 2022

post-COVID symptoms Anyone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19 can suffer from Long COVID, even if it was mild. It is a broad term for the debilitating illness that lingers much longer than the initial COVID-19 infection.

However, not everyone suffering from Long COVID or post-COVID syndrome is able to qualify for Social Security Disability. If the symptoms you are experiencing have significantly impacted your life and your ability to work, the Social Security Administration (SSA) will want a detailed medical record.

Below, our attorneys discuss the current standards in place for getting disability benefits for Long COVID. We have helped many disability claimants over the years obtain the benefits they need. We know what it takes to successfully file an application or appeal a denial notice. Get answers to any questions you may have and learn how we may be able to help you during a free initial consultation.

Here 24/7 to take your call: 1-800-503-2000.

What Are the Symptoms of Long COVID?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Long COVID symptoms can vary widely. Individuals may experience new or ongoing symptoms lasting weeks or months after being initially infected with the virus. These symptoms can happen even if the illness was not serious.

Symptoms of Long COVID commonly reported include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Trouble breathing
  • Coughing
  • Headache
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Fast heart rate
  • Fainting or dizziness on standing
  • Trouble thinking or concentrating (i.e. brain fog)
  • Chest or stomach pain
  • Joint or muscle pain
  • Sleep-related issues
  • Changes in mood
  • Changes in smell or taste

Others with Long COVID have also experienced multiorgan damage or autoimmune conditions affecting heart, lung, kidney, skin and brain function. The duration of Long COVID remains unknown at this time.

Is Long COVID Considered a Disability?

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) considers Long COVID as a disability under certain conditions. Your symptoms must significantly limit your ability to perform one or more life activities. Examples of life activities include, but are not limited to, walking, dressing, speaking, eating and sleeping.

If you are unable to work due to the severity of your post-COVID symptoms and limitations, you may be able to apply for disability benefits. The SSA has released general information on the processing and managing of disability claims alleging COVID-19 as a medical condition.

In order for the SSA to consider Long COVID as a disabling impairment, it has to be medically determined that the impairment is going to last or has lasted for at least 12 months. A medically determinable impairment must be proven through objective medical evidence and lab findings.

For instance, the SSA will need to see:

  • A positive viral test for COVID (antibody tests do not count);
  • A diagnostic test consistent with COVID (i.e. chest X-ray); or
  • A diagnosis of COVID with symptoms (i.e. cough and fever)

If Long COVID causes another impairment, like kidney disease, or worsens an existing impairment, like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), your disability claim may be approved.

Impairment Listing for Post-COVID Syndrome

Once the SSA has established that you cannot work and have a medically determinable impairment, they will look at whether your condition is severe enough to meet or equal a listing in the Blue Book.

There is no listing for post-COVID syndrome. The SSA will compare both your symptoms and limitations to the standards of a medically relevant listing. Your limitations must have the same level of severity.

For instance, say your COVID-19 illness caused damage to your lungs, resulting in you developing a chronic respiratory disorder. Even if your lung function test results do not meet the exact listing for respiratory disorders, the SSA may still determine that your illness equals the listing.

If your condition does not meet or equal a listing, the SSA will then look to see if you have functional limitations (physical or mental) caused by Long COVID. This is done to assess if you can do sustained work activity given your symptoms.

A physical impairment includes physiological disorders or conditions affecting one or more body systems, while a mental impairment includes emotional or psychological conditions, such as mental illness.

Getting Disability Benefits for Long COVID

It is important to attend your doctor’s appointments and follow through with treatment. He or she can help you take the necessary tests or refer you to a specialist to get the appropriate care. Your doctor can also provide the medical evidence needed to support your claim for disability.

Be sure to document the impact of your symptoms and limitations since being initially diagnosed with COVID-19. Describe how it has kept you from being able to have a normal life and work. Having a severe impairment that has been made worse due to Long COVID may be your best chance at getting disability benefits.

An Initial Consultation is Free and Confidential

If you are suffering from Long COVID and believe that your symptoms are serious enough, you may be able to qualify for disability. Dayes Law Firm is here to help in any way we can. An experienced Phoenix Social Security Disability lawyer is ready to review your claim and help you get the filing process started.

The initial consultation that we offer is free of charge and completely confidential. There are no upfront costs for our legal services unless we obtain benefits for you.

Talk to a lawyer today. Ph: 1-800-503-2000

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