Did you know COVID-19 brought as many as 1.2 million additional disability claims in 2021?
If you suffer from long-haul COVID, you may have been struggling with your insurance company or considering filing for disability benefits. Insurance companies are working to develop policies they expect will be effective through at least the end of 2022, but there are rumors that our current state may be the new normal.
Disability insurance beneficiaries may see some changes in the coming months and years. It’s essential to stay current to address any changes coming your way.
Keep reading for important information about COVID-19 long haulers and how it’s likely to affect your disability insurance benefits.
The Physical & Mental Toll of COVID-19
As COVID-19 began to make its way through the United States in 2020, we also started hearing the term “COVID long-haulers.” This became the umbrella term for anyone suffering from long-term symptoms after having COVID, although those symptoms can widely vary.
Here are some of the physical symptoms COVID long-haulers experience:
- Joint Pain
- Chest Pain
- Fast heartbeat
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Organ damage
- Other long-term breathing issues
- Other long-term health issues
Long-haul COVID has also been shown to cause anxiety and depression symptoms. Patients are already experiencing the collective trauma of the pandemic, and the added anxiety and depression of long-haul COVID are of concern to the medical community.
“Long Haulers” – The New Normal?
One of the most frightening things for COVID long-haulers is that neither they nor their healthcare providers know how long symptoms will persist. Because of this, a few specialty clinics are opening to help long-haul COVID patients, such as the one at UC Davis Health.
Doctors encourage patients with long-haul COVID symptoms to get treated and make sure symptoms are not new health issues. Finding or forming a support group to meet with others struggling with similar problems can also be helpful.
Long Hauling” – What the Research Shows
The American Medical Association (AMA) recently shared that long-haul COVID can be divided into three types. Here’s the breakdown:
- COVID with lingering symptoms. These patients have ongoing damage from the virus and never fully recover. Instead, they continue to have persistent symptoms and health issues for weeks, months, or longer.
- COVID with long-term symptoms due to chronic hospitalization. This long-haul COVID occurs when a patient is bed-bound in the ICU for weeks, generally weeks. These patients often experience muscle weakness, cognitive issues, and other long-term hospitalization-related concerns.
- Long-haul COVID in which symptoms appear after initial recovery from COVID. These patients may experience COVID-19 symptoms or be asymptomatic when they initially have the virus. Either way, they may still develop long-haul COVID symptoms.
The Reality of Living With a Long-Term Illness
Because no one is certain if or when the symptoms long-haul COVID patients are experiencing will alleviate, patients are left somewhat in limbo when trying to work.
Depending on symptoms and pain levels, some patients do their best to make it through their workdays to provide for themselves. Some patients may be able to request accommodations to make working, even part-time feasible. Other long-haul COVID patients simply aren’t able to work due to their health issues.
Because of breathing issues, organ damage, limited energy levels, or a whole host of other health concerns, working is not an option. These patients may opt to apply for disability benefits.
Covid-19 Long Haulers and the Struggle to Get Disability Insurance
The first issue patients face when filing a long haul COVID is proving their condition is so severe they can no longer work. You must prove to your doctor how long-haul COVID affects you and that it is such strict limits on your ability to work.
Doctors have a diagnosis code specific to long-haul COVID, known as “Post-Acute Sequelae of COVID-19.” This allows your doctor to be precise in diagnosing your condition with long-haul COVID symptoms.
The second issue facing COVID long-haulers is that because not enough is known about the condition, disability assessors have difficulty putting together a return to work plan. There is no way to see tell time how long symptoms will last and, therefore, no good way to know when the claimant might be able to return to work.
The good news is that under the Americans with Disabilities Act long-haul COVID is now considered a disability. Unfortunately, every case of long-haul COVID is viewed as a disability. The ADA has specific criteria that must be met, so each case must be looked at individually.
According to the ADA, to qualify as a disability, the illness must limit one or more major life activities.
Filing a COVID-19 Disability Claim: The Paperwork and Red Tape
Filing a disability claim can be intimidating, especially when long-haul COVID-19 is involved. Because of how recent the disease is and how little is known about its causes and the course it will run, it can cause undue stress and burden throughout the disability process.
To begin the process of filing for disability, you will initially be asked a list of questions:
- Have you had full-time employment 5 out of the last 10 years
- Expect to be out of work for the next year
- Currently earning less than $1000/month
- Be under the medical care of a doctor or be taking a prescription medication
- Make them aware if you are already receiving any Social Security benefits
- Make them aware if you are a veteran
You will then need to provide them with eligibility documentation (birth certificate, proof of citizenship, etc.), documentation to back your disability claim, an adult Disability Report, and medical evidence (medical records, test results, etc.). You may also be interviewed and/ or complete an exam with a disability-approved physician.
Many long-haul COVID patients find that working with a disability attorney eases and streamlines the process. Instead of facing the unknown alone, an attorney can guide you through each step of the process, offering advice and encouragement; a disability attorney can quickly help you determine if they believe you will meet the qualifications for disability. If they accept your case, they also help keep your claim from getting stuck in the backlog.
Why Are Disability Claims Denied?
There are many reasons why disability claims are denied, but one of the main reasons claims are denied is that claimants do not offer enough medical support for their claims. You must gather the information possible to support your case regarding your health claim.
Gather medical records as far back as possible, and ask your doctor, any specialists you see, and any mental health providers to write letters on your behalf about how your medical condition affects your ability to work. One of the great significant ages of working with disability insurance lawyers in Atlanta is their expertise in guiding you through this process.
A disability lawyer can give you numerous ideas on what information to gather, who to ask for letters, and what other critical support to offer with your claim.
Another reason disability claims are denied is due to mistakes made on the application itself. If the claim does not provide complete information or contains errors, this will cause denial even if it would have been approved otherwise.
Mistakes like these are another reason people often choose to work with disability lawyers who are experts in their field. This way, there won’t be any mistakes causing your claim to be denied.
Are You Ready to File Your Long Haul COVID Disability Claim?
If your doctor has already diagnosed you with long haul COVID or you believe you meet the criteria and are working towards the diagnosis, and if you are no longer able to work because of your health condition, it’s time to file for disability.
You have a right to the benefits you have been paying into for the years you have been working full-time.
If you have concerns about filing a COVID-19 disability claim on your own, we are disability insurance lawyers in Atlanta that are experts at filing on your behalf. Contact us today to schedule an initial consultation.