The COVID-19 pandemic has created a lot of uncertainty around jobs and disability insurance coverage. The widespread nature of the coronavirus, coupled with the devastating effect it has had on the world in such a short amount of time meant that the world had to figure things out as they went. The same is true for disability coverage. While for many, COVID-19 symptoms last only a few weeks at best, some are living with the effects of “Long COVID,” also known as post-COVID conditions.
Can COVID-19 Be Considered a Long-Term Disability
While the coronavirus for most would not be considered a disability, some people may suffer from long-term effects of the condition to the point of debilitation. Individual policies regarding COVID-19 can vary by the insurance company. Furthermore, some may have qualifications for care based on vaccination status.
Generally, the novel coronavirus is not considered a long-term disability, but those suffering from Long COVID could be covered under their long-term disability insurance benefits. Furthermore, some conditions, such as asthma, heart disease, and other co-morbid conditions can become worse after a bout with COVID-19. Because of this, you may become eligible for long-term disability because of your pre-existing condition worsening. According to the ADA, Long COVID can be a disability. However, this does not mean that you will automatically get approval for your condition.
In order to qualify for long-term disability insurance benefits for Long COVID, you should consider the following factors. Firstly, do you have long-term disability insurance through your employer, or an individually purchased policy? Next, does your policy consider post-COVID conditions as long-term disability? Are you having difficulty working as a result of your Post-COVID symptoms? Have your pre-existing, co-morbid conditions worsened as a result of your COVID-19 infection? Then, have you been treated for your long-term COVID-19 symptoms by a doctor? Lastly, has your doctor told you that you may be unable to work because of your condition?
What are Post-COVID Conditions?
Post-COVID conditions can include a wide array of ongoing health issues. Current research shows that these outlying conditions can last for weeks, months, or even years after initially being infected. Often, post-COVID conditions are found in those who had more severe illness as a result of the novel coronavirus. However, anyone who was infected could potentially suffer from post-COVID conditions. Additionally, those who were not vaccinated are at a higher risk of experiencing these conditions than those who received vaccines. For more information regarding the definition of Long COVID, see the CDC’s page here.
Symptoms of COVID-19
Symptoms of COVID-19 have a wide range and generally last 2-14 days. They can also range in severity, from mild to severe. Below, we will list the most commonly reported symptoms, according to the CDC. Possible symptoms can include but are not limited to:
- Fever or chills
- Shortness of breath/difficulty breathing
- Body aches
- Loss of taste and/or smell
- Sore throat
- Congestion or runny nose
Testing for COVID-19 will help determine if you are suffering from the coronavirus or a different illness, such as the flu or another viral infection. Positive test results can also be helpful in confirming your COVID illness in the event that you need to file a disability claim for Long COVID in the future. While most of these symptoms should go away in a few days or weeks, many have reported symptoms lasting longer.
What are the Symptoms of Long COVID?
People living with Long COVID may suffer from a range of new or continuing symptoms. These may be different from the ones you dealt with during your initial infection. many find that these symptoms can get worse with increased physical or mental activity. Symptoms may include:
- Chronic fatigue
- Chronic coughing
- Difficulty thinking or concentrating, “brain fog”
- Shortness of breath/difficulty breathing
- Dizziness when standing up
- Heart palpitations
- Chest pain
- Joint and/or muscle pain
- Loss of taste/smell
In addition to the above symptoms, some people experience severe damage to one or more organs. Often, the affected organs can include the lungs, heart, kidneys, skin, and brain. The Long-term medical complications of COVID-19 can be extreme in some cases, especially for those who had a more severe case. Some people experience lung scarring or general impairment. Cardiovascular issues, including blood pressure changes, heart dysfunction, or heart inflammation have been reported as well.
COVID-19 and Your Co-Morbid Disabilities
If your infection with COVID-19 worsened your pre-existing conditions, you may be eligible for long-term disability where you were not before. Many people living with diabetes, CFS, Fibromyalgia, heart disease, asthma, and other conditions are now faced with worsening quality of life after suffering from a coronavirus infection. Discuss with your doctors as well as your disability attorney if you notice a considerable difference in the symptoms of your pre-existing conditions.
How Can I Prove COVID-19 as a Disability?
As with any other medical condition, you must provide evidence of your condition to the insurance company before they even consider awarding benefits. Below, we will discuss ways to help substantiate your condition.
Your treatment history should provide evidence of your condition. Testing results, hospital records, and office visits should reflect your diagnosis. You should also make sure that they have a record of your symptoms. From there, be sure to continue seeking regular treatment for your symptoms. If you are having difficulty working as a result of your Long COVID symptoms, consider asking your doctor for an Attending Physician’s Statement. This can be helpful in supporting your claim. This statement helps you provide your doctor’s opinion to the insurance company regarding how your symptoms hinder your capacity to work.
Additionally, a personal statement from you or a close loved one regarding your symptoms and condition may be helpful in documenting your daily struggle. While this is not as highly regarded as the above evidence, it can be helpful in supporting your claim.
If you are experiencing cognitive deficits as a result of your long COVID, your disability attorney may advise you to take a Neuropsychological Evaluation. This form of test allows for an objective measurement of your cognitive functioning. The test provides data on aspects such as processing speed, concentration, memory, and more. Overall, the assessment can provide the insurer with an in-depth look into how your post-COVID condition affects your cognitive function.