If you’re suffering from the long-term effects of COVID-19, known as “long COVID,” as a persistent and significant health issue, then you may be entitled to disability benefits. The Biden administration recently recognized long COVID as a disability under the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), Affordable Care Act, and Rehabilitation Act if it affects one or more major life activities.
What Is Long COVID?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), people with long COVID have new or ongoing symptoms that can last weeks or months after being infected with the virus that causes COVID-19. Those symptoms can worsen with physical or mental activity. Although there is much to be learned about long COVID, sufferers experience a wide range of symptoms, including the following:
- tiredness or fatigue,
- difficulty thinking or concentrating (“brain fog”),
- shortness of breath or difficulty breathing,
- dizziness on standing,
- fast-beating or pounding heart (heart palpitations),
- chest pain,
- joint or muscle pain,
- depression or anxiety,
- fever, and
- loss of taste or smell.
What Is a Major Life Activity?
New guidance issued by the U.S. Department of Health Human Services (DHHS) clarifies that federal protections apply to long COVID sufferers where it is a disability. The DHHS and CDC gave examples of situations of substantial limitations in a major life activity for a long COVID sufferer. Here are a few situations may qualify as a disability under the law:
- A person with long COVID who has lung damage that causes shortness of breath, fatigue, and related effects is substantially limited in respiratory function, among other major life activities.
- A person with long COVID who has symptoms of intestinal pain, vomiting, and nausea that have lingered for months is substantially limited in gastrointestinal function, among other major life activities.
- A person with long COVID who experiences memory lapses and “brain fog” is substantially limited in brain function, concentrating, and/or thinking.
While a doctor will need to conduct an individual assessment of your symptoms to determine whether long COVID is a disability for you personally, the guidance from these agencies paves the way for federal protections and accommodations for “long-haulers.” That’s because it may be difficult for long COVID sufferers to work a full-time schedule—if they can even work at all.
How Long COVID Sufferers Can File Disability Claims
If you’re suffering from long COVID, you may want to pursue disability benefits, including worker’s compensation or Social Security disability payments. It can be difficult to establish that you have this disease and to navigate the complex claims process. Insurance companies may deny that you have sufficient evidence of being sick or your inability to perform your job. That’s where we can help.
At Hunter & Everage, we’re committed to helping people who are battling disability claims. Our experienced personal injury and disability lawyers in Richmond, Virginia and Charlotte, North Carolina can help you if you are experiencing challenges as a result of long COVID. Get in touch and let’s discuss how we can help you along your journey to recovery.