Long-Haul COVID Disability
Posted on Wednesday, December 22nd, 2021 at 6:45 pm
Millions of Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic in March 2020. Experts believe that the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19 had been circulating in the U.S. as early as November 2019.
While many people who have had COVID-19 have made a full recovery, others continue to experience debilitating effects long after recovering from the viral infection. These chronic symptoms that begin during COVID-19 and continue after the virus are commonly called “long-haul COVID”. For some who suffer from long-haul COVID, the symptoms and medical conditions that they experience render them unable to effectively work at their jobs. After being disabled from working due to long-haul COVID, you may be entitled to seek disability benefits from Social Security or from a short-term or long-term disability insurance policy that you bought on your own or through your employer.
At Abell and Capitan Law, our disability insurance lawyers have represented disabled individuals across the country who have sought to apply for short-term or long-term disability benefits. We only work with individuals, never insurance companies. And we focus exclusively on disability law, giving us in-depth expertise in this complex area. Our legal team will work to protect your rights and interests when:
- your application or claim for disability benefits has been denied or
- the insurance company is delaying your application by constantly requesting more paperwork and information.
We can help guide you through your options for seeking disability benefits. We’ll do this by reviewing the terms of your disability insurance policies and evaluating your eligibility for benefits. We can level the playing field for you when you go up against major insurance companies, persuasively advocating for your eligibility for disability benefits.
And with our firm, you never need to worry about paying to get the legal advocacy and advice that you need. Our firm works on a contingent fee basis. That means you are not charged hourly fees and do not have to pay anything upfront. Our attorneys are paid only when we recover disability benefits for you/
If you are suffering from the effects of long-haul COVID and cannot work, you may be entitled to seek disability benefits. Reach out to the long-term disability insurance attorneys of Abell and Capitan Law today for a free initial consultation to learn more about how our firm can help you get the financial payments you need while you recover from long-haul COVID. Contact us on our website or give us a call at (267) 419-7888.
Symptoms of Long-Haul COVID
Long-haul COVID affects a wide range of people, from perfectly healthy individuals to those with serious chronic underlying medical conditions. For those who suffer from long-haul COVID, some of the ongoing debilitating symptoms that they experience may include:
- Severe chest pains
- Shortness of breath
- Chronic cough
- Widespread muscle and joint pain
- Chronic fatigue
- Persistent headaches and migraines
- High blood pressure
- Erratic heart rates
- Heart tissue inflammation
- Concentration issues
- “Brain fog,” or difficulty thinking/confusion
- Depression and anxiety
- Persistent loss of sense of taste and/or smell
Many people who have experienced long-haul COVID report symptoms much like those they had when they actively had the virus. As a result, long-haul COVID can make someone feel as though they have never actually recovered from the disease.
Effects of Long-Term COVID
In addition to the symptoms caused by long-term COVID, the condition can also involve permanent effects and changes to the body. Because the virus that causes COVID-19 can target multiple organs in the body, long-term COVID may include health issues caused by damage to:
- Digestive tract
- Immune system organs and glands
Long-haul COVID may also arise for those who were hospitalized or placed in intensive care during their COVID infection. Post-intensive care syndrome is a common condition for those who spent extended time on ventilators and other respiratory devices while hospitalized for COVID.
Options for Disability Benefits
If you are suffering from the debilitating effects of long-haul COVID, you may have several options for obtaining disability benefits if you can’t return to work. Options for obtaining disability benefits include:
- Workers’ compensation disability, if you can prove that you contracted COVID in the course and scope of your employment
- Social Security Disability Insurance, which provides financial payments to workers who are completely disabled from gainful employment due to a debilitating condition
- Private short-term or long-term disability insurance, if you purchase an insurance policy on your own or through your employer, or if your employer has acquired disability insurance for you
Obtaining disability benefits for long-haul COVID can prove difficult, as doctors are still learning about the disease and no one really knows how long a case of long-haul COVID will last. For that reason, you need experienced long-term disability lawyers to help you prepare an effective claim or application for disability benefits.
Getting Disability Benefits for Long-Haul COVID
The Social Security Administration or a short-term or long-term disability insurer may provide benefits for long-haul COVID if you can demonstrate disability because of the condition. This may require showing that:
- You have been diagnosed with long-haul COVID by your doctor or another physician
- Your doctor has determined that the effects of long-haul COVID impact your ability to do your job
- You have found yourself having difficulties performing the tasks of your job, or completely unable to work, due to the symptoms and medical conditions caused by long-haul COVID
Disability insurers may impose restrictions on benefits within the first 12 months of obtaining a policy. They also have strict claim submission deadlines, which makes it critical to work with an experienced disability lawyer to make sure you don’t miss one.
Applying for Social Security Disability or Short-Term/Long-Term Disability Insurance
To obtain disability benefits, you typically need to address these five factors to be considered fully disabled and eligible.
- Are you currently gainfully employed? – Benefits are typically not provided to individuals who are still performing “substantial gainful activity.” In other words, your benefits application may be denied if you are continuing to earn a substantial income. For example, as of 2021, the SSA considers substantial gainful activity to begin at individual earnings of $1,310 per month (or $2,190 if legally blind).
- Your condition must qualify as “severe.” – A disability may be categorized as “severe” if an applicant has a medically determinable impairment that has prevented the applicant (or is expected to prevent the applicant) from working for at least 12 months, or is expected to result in death. For long-haul COVID, you will need to provide evidence of a COVID diagnosis. This is usually done with a positive viral test, or with scans and other diagnostic testing that shows signs of COVID-19. In addition, a COVID infection that has developed into long-haul COVID may be considered severe if your doctor does not expect your condition to improve enough to return to work within the next 12 months.
- Your condition must meet or equal a listed impairment. – The SSA and short-term/long-term disability insurers maintain lists of qualifying medical impairments. Conditions not specifically listed may qualify if they equal a listed impairment in their severity and effects on a person. Although COVID-19 or long-haul COVID is not currently listed as an impairment, long-haul COVID can cause symptoms and conditions severe enough to equal a listed impairment. In some cases, you may be required to undergo an independent medical exam to properly document the types and severity of impairments that you experience.
- Can you do any job that you have previously worked in? – An evaluation of your eligibility for benefits may consider the limitations that you are suffering due to long-haul COVID and determine whether you can still perform any past jobs that you have held in your career.
- Can you do any other type of work that commonly exists in the workplace? – If you cannot perform any of your past jobs, the evaluation might also look to see if any other jobs exist in substantial numbers in the national economy that you can perform within the limitations caused by your condition. This evaluation will usually also consider your education, training, skills, and work experience when identifying other jobs you might be capable of performing.
Evidence That Can Support Your Claim for Disability Benefits
You will need to collect and submit evidence in support of your claim that you have been disabled from working due to the debilitating effects of long-haul COVID. Examples of the kinds of evidence you may need include:
- Medical records of your treatment, beginning with your initial diagnosis of COVID. Important medical records include COVID test results, hospital records if you were hospitalized with COVID, physical/occupational therapy, pain management, and medication records.
- Doctor’s notes from your appointments with your treating providers that provide official documentation of the symptoms and effects that you experience due to long-haul COVID. Doctor’s notes will record debilitating symptoms that you may be experiencing, such as severe pain, difficulty breathing, dizziness, “brain fog,” or organ damage.
- Statements from family members, friends, neighbors, and work colleagues who can testify as to changes to your behavior and the difficulties that you have with daily functioning, both physically and cognitively.
- A personal statement where you describe in detail the symptoms that you experience from long-haul COVID and exactly how they have impacted your daily life and ability to work.
- Independent medical exam reports, including neuropsychological exams that measure your memory, concentration, and executive function and can support a claim that the effects of long-haul COVID have left you incapable of effectively doing your job.
How Can an Attorney Help You Apply for Disability Benefits for Long-Haul COVID?
Although you can apply for long-term disability benefits for long-haul COVID on your own, the novel nature of this condition means that the Social Security Administration or long-term disability insurers may be more inclined to deny benefits claims based on long-haul COVID. Even before COVID, disability claims were subject to frequent denials. For example, as many as three-quarters of all Social Security disability applications are denied by the SSA on initial review.
To give yourself the best chance at successfully securing disability benefits, you need an experienced lawyer on your side. At Abell and Capitan Law, our attorneys can help you in your application for benefits by:
- Going over your rights and options for disability benefits, including the possibility of filing a claim with a long-term disability insurer if you have a short-term or long-term disability insurance policy. If you have been offered a lump-sum settlement from a disability insurer, we can advise you about whether the offer is a good one.
- Collecting all necessary evidence to support your claim that you have been disabled because of long-haul COVID, including medical records and doctor’s notes.
- Gathering other medical evidence, such as setting you up with medical specialists or an independent medical examiner.
- Obtaining other evidence that may be required for your benefits application, such as financial information and occupational history.
- Securing witness statements to bolster your claim of the debilitating effects of long-haul COVID that negatively impact your ability to work.
- Filing your initial applications for disability benefits.
- Reviewing the denial letter, if you have already tried to apply for disability benefits, to help you understand the reasons for the denial as well as how you can strengthen your application or claim and try again.
- Pursuing administrative appeals of application or claims denials, including representing you at hearings and aggressively negotiating on your behalf with insurance adjusters.
Contact Our Firm Today for Assistance with Your Long-Haul COVID Disability Claim
When the effects of long-haul COVID have left you unable to work, disability benefits can provide you with the financial assistance you need for your regular expenses and your medical care. Call Abell and Capitan Law at (267) 419-7888 or contact us online through our website today for a free, no-obligation case evaluation. You can speak with a long-term disability lawyer from our firm about your legal rights and options for pursuing disability benefits while you’re out of work because of long-haul COVID.