People who have had COVID-19 sometimes develop long-term symptoms like persistent fatigue, headaches and shortness of breath. These persistent symptoms can be debilitating and, in some cases, cause the sufferer to be completely unable to work.
If you’re living with long-haul COVID that keeps you from working, you may be wondering if you might qualify for Social Security Disability coverage. The answer is “maybe.”
This is for a couple of reasons. The first is that Social Security Disability is only available to people whose disability has lasted, or is expected to last, for at least a year or end in death. It is only now, after the pandemic has been with us for a while, that we are learning whether long-haul COVID lasts that long.
The second is that long-haul COVID is not yet included in the Social Security Administration’s listings for covered impairments, although the Biden administration has taken steps to adding it. It is sometimes possible to get Social Security Disability for conditions that are not in the listings, but it takes a bit of extra effort.
If you have been disabled for a year, consider applying now
Long-haul COVID is no joke, and there are probably many people whose symptoms are so severe that they can’t work. Now that more than a year has passed since COVID first arrived, there are people whose disability will have lasted a year or longer.
If you need to apply for Social Security Disability, you should know that the application process takes time. Once you file your application, it can be three to six months until you hear back.
If your initial application is denied – and it easily could be in a long-haul COVID claim – it can take another four to six months to get a reconsideration.
If your application is denied at the reconsideration stage, it could take a year before you get a hearing with an administrative law judge.
Unfortunately, it’s all too common for people’s Social Security Disability applications to be denied even when their claims are legitimate. You can reduce the chance of a denial by presenting substantial medical evidence about your symptoms and prognosis.
You can also reduce the chance of a denial by hiring an attorney to help you. An attorney can help you avoid making mistakes that can slow down the approval process or cause an initial denial.
Attorneys’ fees are set by law and are paid on a contingency basis. That means you don’t have to pay up-front to hire a lawyer. You only owe legal fees if your case is successful. At that point, your lawyer can generally charge no more than 25% of your past-due benefits up to $6,000.