Three years have passed since the COVID-19 pandemic battered the world. In that time, there have been more than 100 million documented cases of the virus in the U.S., with the number of undocumented cases likely much higher.
Because hospitalizations have declined nationwide and deaths have held steady at lower levels over the past year, many believe the worst is behind us now.
But not for everyone.
Though most people who have been hit with COVID fully recover from the virus, others are not so lucky. They continue to experience debilitating symptoms and additional health complications which persist for months, even years.
This is called “post-COVID syndrome” or more commonly, “long COVID.” People call those with this syndrome “long haulers.” For long haulers, the COVID virus is no longer active, and they cannot transmit it to others, yet they are debilitated all the same.
Medical experts estimate that there are up to 23 million Americans who are or have been long haulers and that long COVID is keeping as many as 4 million people in the U.S. out of work.
If you are one of those coping with long COVID, you may qualify for Social Security Disability benefits, but the path to being awarded benefits for this condition can be difficult to navigate.
In many cases of long COVID, claims may ultimately be rejected because the two disability benefits programs—Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI)—only pay benefits for disabilities that have lasted 12 months or longer. Many claimants simply haven’t experienced symptoms long enough.
Furthermore, you must prove that your medical condition (or combination of conditions) prevents you from sustaining a job. For more on this subject read our blog article: “The Secret to Winning Your Disability Case.”
There are two ways you can qualify for Social Security Disability benefits.
The first is to meet a Social Security listing. The Social Security Administration has a set of procedures in place to identify disabilities that are medically eligible for benefits. These procedures are published in a handbook known as the “Blue Book,” and it includes a long list of various disabling conditions known as “listings.” But right now, there is no listing for long COVID.
The second way to qualify is proving that you’re unable to perform any work due to your long COVID symptoms, given your age, education, and past work experience.
It’s a good idea to enlist the assistance of an experienced disability attorney who can present your case to Social Security and show how your long COVID prevents you from working. For more information, see our blog article, 5 Ways to Improve Your Social Security Disability Case.
You will also need a lot of patience. Pandemic issues and budget cuts at the Social Security Administration, which handles SSDI and SSI claims, have resulted in the lowest staffing levels in 25 years, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
The result is that there is a backlog of more than one million disability cases nationwide, and wait times are at historically high levels.
If you have symptoms of long COVID which are interfering with your ability to hold onto a job, you may qualify for disability benefits. Due to the tricky nature of disability claims and the lengthy and complicated disability claims process, it is worthwhile to have a local, Chicagoland Social Security Disability lawyer with significant experience review your claim and offer you the best possible advice for your unique situation. You can contact Nash Disability Law through our website for a free evaluation of your case.