Long COVID can occur in anyone who has had COVID-19, regardless of their health status at the time or their age. This is a broad and general term for the debilitating illness that persists well beyond your initial COVID-19 infection, with chronic symptoms ranging from fatigue, brain fog, shortness of breath to organ damage. .
Not everyone who is COVID “long haul” will be able to qualify for disability insurance. Still, if you think your symptoms are having a significant impact on your life or your ability to work, there are some things you need to know to make your case.
To help us understand some of the standards for disability benefits, Barbara Zabawa, attorney and clinical assistant professor at UW-Milwaukee, answers questions you may have.
If someone has long COVID, when and how should they report it as a disability?
Zabawa says it would first be necessary to identify the main life activities that they cannot perform due to the long duration of COVID. She says the main activities of life include taking care of yourself, performing manual tasks or learning. “If you’ve been through these things as a result of a long COVID, you need to get medical substantiation. Essentially, some sort of proof that it’s the long COVID that’s limiting you so much to do these major life activities. A once you have that, then you can file a claim,” says Zabawa.
Do people have to reapply and reassess each year to determine if their long COVID is a disability?
Zabawa says that annual consideration after someone receives benefits will depend on whether they receive benefits through the Social Security Administration or their employer. “The policy will dictate how often you need to renew, apply, or confirm you’re still disabled. They’ll give you guidelines on what you need to do to continue collecting benefits,” Zabawa says.
What is important for employers with vaccine mandates to know about the Disability Act?
No federal law requires employers to have vaccination warrants, Zabawa points out. “Employers can decide for themselves based on their employee population, based on their beliefs and based on their workforce needs and customers, whether or not to have a vaccination mandate policy. in their workplace,” says Zabawa.
For people in essential jobs that put them at risk, what is the difference between workers’ compensation and a disability claim?
“Presumably, if someone gets COVID from something they were required to do at work, they could file a workers’ compensation claim to get their medical and other bills paid. The problem with COVID is being able to trace it back to work rather than something you did on your own,” says Zabawa.
What advice do you give to someone who has long symptoms of COVID?
It’s important to know that you’re not alone, says Zabawa. Claiming COVID as a disability is new. “There are cases where people have managed to ask for help, even with something that others couldn’t understand or was difficult to prove. This has happened and to look at the cases where it worked, to try to replicate what worked, if that’s what you need to function and come out of this pandemic,” Zabawa says.
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