Over 83.3 million cases of Covid have been reported in the US alone across the two-plus years of the pandemic. When the virus was at its most virulent, enforced workplace closures and time off left the US government with little choice but to implement emergency assistance for countless struggling families.
Now, while we’re by no means through a pandemic that has shaken the ways that we work, live, and socialize, vaccination rates of around 584 million doses have at least facilitated a downturn in death rates and hospital admissions. This has led to the cessation of much of the emergency support that was previously in place. Unfortunately, even as reported cases continue to decline, some individuals suffer from the crippling impact of long Covid, often without the same support that standalone cases received as little as a year ago.
Though too often overlooked, this hangover of the pandemic is now thought to affect as many as 23 million Americans, with more cases believed to be undocumented. Far past the standard two weeks of Covid-19, lasting symptoms are making smooth transitions back into the workplace impossible, facilitating questions that we’re going to address here about whether or not cases of long Covid quality for benefits.
What is Long Covid?
While we’re all now familiar with the symptoms of Covid 19, far fewer of us are aware of long Covid symptoms or their lasting impact. For surprising numbers of people, however, recovery from acute cases of Covid has been followed by ongoing symptoms including chest pain, fever, and delirium. When these symptoms persist for longer than four weeks, a diagnosis of long Covid is reached.
While much remains unknown about this condition, long Covid can be split into two broad categories, which are –
- Ongoing symptomatic Covid: Symptoms that continue for more than four weeks.
- Post-Covid syndrome: Symptoms last longer than twelve weeks and can’t be explained by any other condition.
As well as physical symptoms like those experienced throughout Covid, experts are especially noticing more worrying, deep-seated patterns of symptoms from long Covid, including neurological deficits (memory loss, brain fog, confusion, etc.), and an increased risk of conditions like anxiety or depression.
In each instance, the lingering effects of long Covid can prove catastrophic to an individual’s ability to work and function, as well as requiring repeated hospital visits and appointments that can result in severe financial trouble.
Can Social Security Disability (SSDI) Help?
Paid for by FICA payroll taxes, social security disability (SSDI) is intended to provide crucial income assistance in the case of long-term illnesses or disability. Unfortunately, the fact that SSDI was traditionally implemented for assistance in the case of illnesses that were either expected to or had already lasted for longer than 12 months means that long Covid eligibility isn’t always clear.
That’s not to say that disability benefits can’t provide relief for individuals who are taken to the financial brink of long Covid, especially as studies continue to reveal the depths of this diagnosis. President Joe Biden has also taken steps to achieve recognition of long-haul Covid under federal law, which will undeniably help claimants experiencing this condition.
In cases where long Covid can be proven to have a lasting impact on one or more major life activities, in particular, SSDI assistance can be possible to achieve, especially for individuals who take every possible step to improve their chances of acceptance.
How Can Long Covid SSDI Claimants Improve Their Chances?
Increasing your chances of being awarded SSDI during Covid includes taking steps such as –
# 1 - Always Meet SSDI Criteria
Qualifying for SSDI has always been dependent on a claimant's ability to meet certain social security criteria. Financial considerations, in particular, are behind your ability to apply for, and potentially receive SSDI before long Covid has exceeded a 12-month period, and should include –
- Whether you’re earning
- If you’ve paid FICA taxes
- Whether you fall below an income threshold of $1,310 per month
Your condition must also meet social security’s definition of a disability. Obviously, President Joe Biden’s insistence of having long Covid recognized in this sense helps here, but your unique case must also be preventing you from working or reasonably completing daily activities. Regulations also state that your medical professionals should expect your condition to last for at least 12 months.
# 2 - Get your Application in Early
The fact that long Covid should last longer than 12 months to qualify for SSDI does not mean that you need to wait a year before applying. In fact, with decisions here taking as long as 3 months to a year (1.3% of applicants declare bankruptcy while awaiting a decision), early applications are crucial for ensuring proper financial planning and the careful handling that the application process requires, including assistance and the appeal of unwarranted rejections.
# 3 - Build your case
Confusion over the time frame of long Covid is perhaps the leading reason for disability benefit rejection, but this is a setback that can often be negated by building a strong case. In particular, you should arrange regular and well-documented visits with your doctor regarding your condition, as well as keeping ample notes about sometimes vague symptoms including the length, severity, and frequency of –
- Sleep problems
- Digestive issues
# 4 - Get the Help that you Need
Even when you take all of the precautions mentioned here, the uncertainty of long Covid, as well as notable neurological symptoms and fatigue, can make SSDI claims confusing and easily overwhelming. This increases your chances of having a claim denied due to easily avoidable mistakes or misunderstandings, most of which can be avoided with the right help. By getting in touch with our team here at Benefits Claim, for instance, you can secure ongoing support with your SSDI claim for zero-upfront cost to you. Even better, we work across 50 states to take the pain out of long Covid-related benefits challenges nationwide. Simply apply now to see how we could help with your unique situation and claims process.