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For some, the effects of COVID-19 last up to a couple of weeks and end in complete recovery. For others, however, COVID-19 symptoms can continue or develop after the initial infection, leading to longer-term and often debilitating health changes. Here we take a look at ‘Long COVID’ and its impact, and discuss whether you might be able to claim disability benefits if you are affected.

What is ‘Long COVID’?

COVID-19 is new to all of us – and so is the term ‘Long COVID’. Coined by medical professionals, Long COVID is the name given to continuing or developing COVID-19 symptoms in an individual, who can suffer from the virus’ common side-effects long after initial infection. This prolonged period of experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, or complications as a result of them, can go on of months, years, or even more.

Many people who are infected by COVID-19 experience mild to moderate symptoms, including (but not limited to):

  • A fever or chills
  • A cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headaches
  • Loss of taste or smell
  • A sore throat
  • Congestion or a runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

In many cases, a person will leave their period of isolation having completely recovered from these symptoms. For some, it can take up to a month to feel their usual self again. However, there are a growing number of cases of Long COVID worldwide, where people have not fully recovered from the virus’ effects after a long period of time – and the symptoms can be life-altering.

The impact of Long COVID

It is currently unclear how many people are suffering from Long COVID (and who are sometimes referred to as ‘COVID-19 long haulers’). However, what is clear is the significant impact of the condition.

With groups and clinics emerging across the US to support sufferers, and the National Institutes of Health launching an initiative to identify the underlying causes and possible treatments of Long COVID, there is no denying that this is a serious emerging health issue.

Rebecca Vallas, a former disability lawyer and a senior fellow at The Century Foundation that pursues equality in healthcare, explains to TIME that “COVID long haulers represent the largest influx of new entrants to the disability community in modern history.”

Symptoms of Long COVID can be debilitating and affect a person’s ability to work and carry out day-to-day tasks. These include (but are not limited to) the following:

  • Extreme tiredness (fatigue)
  • Shortness of breath and ongoing breathing difficulties
  • Problems with memory and concentration
  • Difficulty sleeping (insomnia)
  • Heart palpitations
  • Dizziness
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Tinnitus and earaches

While no two patients are the same, in several cases Long COVID can be an ‘invisible disability’, much like other long-term conditions that can be brought about by a virus or a hit to the body’s immune system (like Myalgic encephalomyelitis, also known as chronic fatigue syndrome).

Is Long COVID stopping you from working?

Long COVID can have a significant impact on a person’s ability to work. Take 43-year-old Chantelle James, for instance – a registered nurse whose case has been highlighted in US News. Several months after initially catching COVID-19, she was struggling with dizziness and balance, explaining that, despite the initial infection having passed, she still was not able to walk in a straight line and would fall over when she got up from a chair.

Unable to work and having exhausted her worker’s compensation, James now faces the process of applying for disability benefits.

Many people across the US find themselves in this situation today. The good news is that it is possible to apply for disability benefits if Long COVID is affecting your ability to work. The less good news is that applications are flooding an already overwhelmed system. 34 million Americans have had COVID-19 to-date and, if only 10% of those affected applied for disability in the next year or two, that would mean an unprecedented 3.4 million applications for disability benefits.

Can I get support when applying for Long COVID SSDI?

Yes. The process of applying for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and/or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) can be overwhelming; especially if you are new to the system and do not know how it works. But you don’t have to go it alone.

A Social Security disability lawyer can support you through the entire process from the very start. At Sampson Dunlap LLP, we have specialized in Social Security disability claims for 30 years and have the expertise to guide you through your Long COVID disability claim.

We can offer advice on whether you have a valid claim, explain the system, cut through the complicated jargon, and put the process in terms you understand. We also take care of the time-consuming (and often confusing) paperwork, so your application is the strongest it can be.

If you are suffering with the long-term effects of COVID-19 and are unable to work, contact us today to see how Sampson Dunlap can help you.

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Speak to our friendly team today to learn if you could be eligible for SSDI due to the long-term effects of COVID-19 and Long COVID.

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