In September 2022, President Joe Biden created some controversy when he declared the coronavirus pandemic was over. High officials in the White House stressed that, despite the President’s remark, the country is not out of the woods yet. Dr. Anthony Fauci said, “We are not where we need to be”. Furthermore, at the same time President Biden made his remarks, the White House was requesting an additional $22 billion in COVID relief. To all living in Memphis and the mid south region of Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi, it might seem like we are continually getting mixed messages from both our county’s government and health officials.
The Harvard School of Public Health has made it their mission since 2019, to keep up with how the Coronavirus is affecting public health around the world. Daily and even weekly updates are published for all to read. Mr. Heermans, of Heermans Social Security Disability Law Firm acknowledges that, “almost all disability applicants, have in some way, been affected by the Coronavirus pandemic”. And, “its long term effects may be changing the way we all work and live together.”
It seems like we are continually riding a wave that goes from low cases of Covid, new Covid strain mutations, and then back to outbreaks. This wave is especially exhausting to those experiencing a disability and has led to something called long COVID. Long COVID has been recognized as a disabling condition under federal antidiscrimination law. Unfortunately, the Americans with Disabilities designation doesn’t apply to the Social Security Administration. So, long COVID may or may not be a qualifying SSD condition.
At the Heermans Social Security Disability Law Firm, our disability lawyers near you take a specialized approach to these cases. Many first time applicants argue that their medical conditions make it impossible for them to find work. But we analyze potential disability cases based on how the applicant cannot work because of his/her medical condition. This approach is designed to work hand in hand with the stringent questions that must be answered in the SSD application and can make clear how long COVID affects the applicant. Because we have seen an increase in clients that have long COVID conditions along with “traditional” disability conditions, we have recently posted articles that include this subject. But the questions keep coming in, so we thought we’d address some more of them in depth here.
What is long COVID?
That’s a very good question that has no definitive answer. Most COVID patients fully recover in a few days or weeks. But for some reason, perhaps because they have a certain genetic predisposition or a pre-existing medical condition, some people simply don’t get well. According to the CDC, if the symptoms listed below continue for more than four weeks, the person probably has long COVID.
Long COVID is also undetectable. Since there’s no long COVID test, it’s impossible for most doctors to determine if long COVID, or something else, causes the patient’s symptoms. A Heermans SSI lawyer near you realizes that potential long COVID victims may have top-notch doctors who know how to recognize mysterious conditions like long COVID, while others may not. If the health problem isn’t long COVD, the applicant may be suffering from another disability, like a respiratory or immune condition.
What are some of the symptoms of long COVID?
Most long COVID symptoms go straight to the heart of employability matters. These symptoms include:
- Fatigue, especially post-exertional malaise, or extreme fatigue after mental or physical exertion,
- Shortness of breath,
- Heart palpitations,
- Trouble concentrating or thinking (coronavirus “brain fog”),
- Orthostatic hypotension (dizziness when standing or sitting),
- Diarrhea, and
- Muscle or joint pain.
Individually, these symptoms are not severe. Collectively, they could be disabling, according to current Social Security law guidelines.
If you are a boss, would you hire someone who was in constant pain, had to go to the bathroom a lot, couldn’t stand up or sit down without almost falling over, and was listless throughout the day? Or, If you displayed these symptoms at a job interview, would the boss hire you? The answer to both these questions is a resounding “no.” Likewise, if you need to go to work to pay your bills, how are you supposed to do so if you can’t function properly?
Making matters worse, long COVID symptoms seem to come and go. One symptom flares up for a few weeks or months. As that flare-up subsides, something else replaces it. Once again, you are riding another wave…
How long does long COVID last on average?
Just like long COVID is hard to detect at the outset, it’s hard to say how long this condition lasts. As mentioned, the symptoms come and go. Additionally, there isn’t much data available. Coronavirus and its mutations are still spreading worldwide. Unfortunately we may be on the verge of seeing a new normal…new long COVID patients, or at least “potential new patients”, emerging every day.
It is estimated that about 8 percent of Americans who have never had the coronavirus before, will have symptoms that last at least three months. To most patients, those three months will probably seem like forever. But to the SSA, a three or six-month disabling illness doesn’t qualify for SSD. This program is not a short-term disability program. However, remember that the three month figure is an average figure. Also remember that symptoms come and go. Therefore, if you have had long COVID symptoms documented by your doctor over 12 months and other disabling conditions, an SSDI claim may still be an uphill fight. But it is one that a Heermans SSI disability lawyer in Memphis is well familiar with.
How do you recover from long term COVID?
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. There’s no way to “recover” from long COVID. These patients must simply wait for the symptoms to dissipate and avoid activities that worsens their symptoms. So, preventing infection in the first place is the best way to treat long COVID symptoms.
Coronavirus is a close contact flu virus. The Big Three that doctors have been preaching since the virus hit in 2020, hand washing, mask wearing, and social distancing, are the best ways to prevent COVID infections. People who regularly do all three of these things greatly reduce their risk of infection.
Many of us are vulnerable to flu viruses because we aren’t very healthy to begin with. We are stressed out, we don’t get much sleep, our diet is poor, and we don’t get much exercise. Therefore, many of us are highly vulnerable to pretty much any flu virus.
Incidentally, we don’t mean to minimize the danger of this virus. Coronavirus has killed over one million Americans since 2020.
Additionally, there’s some evidence that people who have breakthrough infections (vaccinated individuals who get sick) are less likely to develop long COVID. So, getting the shot may be a prevention itself.
Can I get disability payments for long COVID?
Once again, there’s almost no data in this area. Unless you got sick in the first COVID wave during the winter of 2019 or the spring of 2020, there may not be enough medical records history from your doctor to apply for SSDI. That being said, here’s what we know.
Usually, SSD benefits are available if, for more than one year, the applicant cannot work and has a recognized medical condition.
The time length requirement does not mean the applicant must have three hundred and sixty-five consecutive bad days. If that was true, practically no one would qualify for SSD benefits. Instead, the applicant’s symptoms must be so severe, or so unpredictable, that going to work five days a week, every week, week after week, is impossible.
As for employment, there’s a difference between unemployed and unemployable. Many SSD recipients are working. However, due to their medical conditions, educational backgrounds, and other factors, they cannot earn a living wage (and this would mean that they are “unemployable” according to the SSA).
Since there isn’t much data about this new condition, long COVID isn’t a recognized SSA disability. However, it is substantially similar to many Blue Book conditions, such as fibromyalgia and various respiratory disorders. It also appears to greatly affect those who are both currently working and looking to enter the labor market. Since our country is experiencing a labor shortage, many people with long COVID are still working but frequently take time off or reduce their hours.
At the Heermans Disability Law Firm, our SSA law firm attorneys are committed to obtaining all of the benefits a diabled individual may qualify for. If you would like more information on the disability claim process or a FREE disability evaluation, simply call or text 24/7 at (901) 244-0057. We also will evaluate your case if you have been denied disability benefits. More value added FREE information can be found in our online article library.
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