Can I Get Social Security Disability for COVID-19?
At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, reports of “typical” COVID-19 symptoms seemed mostly respiratory: things like cough, shortness of breath, fatigue, sore throat, etc.
However, nearly two years into the pandemic, we’ve learned a lot more about this virus—including the fact that it affects different people in sometimes wildly different ways. Some people experience very mild (or even no) symptoms of COVID-19. Others, however, report experiencing symptoms long after the initial infection—weeks or even months later.
People who experience long-lasting symptoms of COVID-19—called “long-haulers”—often face debilitating symptoms. The list of reported symptoms is long and includes things like fatigue, brain fog, chest pain, muscle and joint pain, sleep problems, dizziness, stomach problems, and more.
Because of these symptoms, long-haulers are finding it difficult or impossible to return to work. As a result, many have been attempting to file for Social Security Disability Insurance.
If you or a loved one are experiencing long COVID and considering SSDI, there are a few things you need to know. Today, we’re talking about this important issue in depth.
Keep reading to learn how COVID-19 affects the Social Security Administration, if you can get SSDI benefits for COVID-19, what the application process looks like for long-haulers, and more.
Can You Get Social Security Disability for COVID-19?
To understand whether COVID-19 qualifies for Social Security Disability Insurance, we need to briefly talk about how SSDI works.
Essentially, Social Security Disability Insurance is a type of insurance you purchase and pay into by working. To qualify for SSDI benefits, you must meet the work requirements and the medical requirements.
Under the medical requirements, you need to have a “medically determinable” disability that limits your ability to maintain gainful employment. (Basically, your condition prevents you from returning to work and supporting yourself.) Also, your medical condition must be “reasonably expected” to last 12 months or be terminal. The SSA has a list of medical conditions it considers automatically severe enough to qualify for SSDI. For other conditions, however, the SSA looks at each applicant on a case by case basis.
In many cases, it’s already difficult for many applicants to prove their condition qualifies them for benefits. This is especially true for any applicant who has an illness that isn’t easily diagnosed or has vague symptoms. (Think fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, etc.)
Since COVID-19 is a new illness, this has made proving SSDI case even more difficult. Scientists are still trying to determine how and why COVID-19 causes long-term symptoms in certain people, and when those symptoms can be expected to get better. That makes questions like, “Does long COVID prevent people from working?” and “Can long COVID be expected to last at least 12 months?” tough to answer.
The good news is that President Biden has moved to make long-haul COVID symptoms recognizable as a disability under federal law. That said, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is clear that long COVID isn’t automatically considered a disability—simply that it can be.
That means, in order to qualify for SSDI benefits, you will need to prove to the SSA that your COVID symptoms meet the current medical requirements for Social Security Disability.
Applying for SSDI as a COVID Long-Hauler
If you or a loved one are experiencing long COVID, there are some important things to know about the SSDI process.
#1 Apply as soon as you can.
Even in the best of times, the Social Security Disability claims process is a long one. It takes time to submit your claim and have your claim reviewed by the SSA. If your claim is initially denied, it can then take months to appeal the denial.
Today, however, the Social Security Administration is experiencing further delays. For years, a lack of funding has made it harder for the SSA to quickly do its job. This problem was made worse by the pandemic, when shut-downs prevented in-person services.
That’s why it’s important not to wait if you want to apply for SSDI benefits. The sooner you get started, the sooner you can see benefits.
#2 Document your physical symptoms.
Unfortunately, proving you have long COVID isn’t as simple as getting a quick diagnosis. You’ll need to document your symptoms and provide a history of your illness.
The best way to do this is share your symptoms with your doctor, who can document them. This way, your symptoms will be part of your medical record. You may also consider keeping a journal to document things like what your symptoms are, how you are feeling, and how your symptoms are affecting you day-to-day.
#3 Speak to an attorney to increase your chances of success.
It’s an unfortunate fact that many first-time claims for SSDI benefits are denied—often wrongfully. Denied claims can be appealed, but as we said above, that can take months.
In order to improve your chances of success—especially in complicated long COVID SSDI cases—it’s a good idea to speak to an SSDI lawyer. An experienced and knowledgeable lawyer can help you understand your options and navigate the complex claims process.
Contact an SSDI Lawyer Today
If you need support, we’re here to help. The SSDI lawyers at Casper & Casper would be happy to speak to you about your claim.
Call us today to find out if you can get Social Security Disability for COVID-19.