Biden Administration Says Long-Haul Covid Can Be Considered a Disability Under Law
COVID-19 has obviously made an impact on our lives in a variety of ways, whether directly for the people who have experienced it first-hand or indirectly for people who have adapted their lives to all of the circumstances toward avoiding it. Most recently, it has also affected how the United States looks at Social Security Disability under the law.
In July 2021, the Biden administration announced that what is known as Long COVID, or when people experience long-term effects from the virus long after it has exited their system, might now be considered a disability. There are many long-haulers out there who are still sick despite no longer testing positive for COVID, and because of this, they might qualify for SSD.
How Do You Know If You Have Long COVID?
One of the first things you might be asking yourself if you’ve had the coronavirus and might still be feeling sick is “Am I a long-hauler?” According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the following are the symptoms associated with Long COVID (note: these symptoms should take place weeks or months after being infected by the virus):
- Worsened mental or physical activity
- Tiredness or fatigue
- Brain fog or when you have difficulty concentrating or thinking
- Shortness of breath/difficulty breathing
- Dizziness when you stand
- Fast-pounding or fast-beating heart (also known as heart palpitations)
- Chest pain
- Joint and muscle pain or discomfort
- Depression or anxiety
- Loss of taste
- Loss of smell
While these are the most common symptoms, it’s important to note that long-haulers might also experience more severe issues like damage to vital organs like the heart, kidneys, lungs, skin, and brain.
How Does Long COVID Qualify as a Disability?
Just as social security disability lawyers have to prove that their clients’ impairments inhibit major life activities, they would have to do the same with Long COVID. In order for someone to qualify Long COVID as a disability, they have to prove that it restricts one or more major life activities under ADA Section 504 and Section 1557.
Because Long COVID includes a range of symptoms and afflictions, Long COVID isn’t always considered a disability, and individualized medical assessments are necessary in order to determine whether it qualifies as one.
Those whose Long COVID is determined to be a disability receive the same protections as other people with disabilities, meaning that businesses or state or local governments might need to make accommodations for long-haulers the way they would accommodate anyone else’s disability.
What Should Businesses Do To Accommodate Long COVID?
Major life activities that can be disrupted as a result of Long COVID include seeing, hearing, walking, sitting, sleeping, eating, standing, reaching, bending, speaking, breathing, communicating, thinking, writing, and more. These are activities that many people take for granted, and in order to accommodate long-haulers, employers might have to make changes like adding standing desks for long-haulers who have trouble sitting for long periods of time. Another example of an adjustment might be an employer allowing a service animal into an office for someone with Long COVID who experiences dizziness and needs an animal to maintain their balance. Basically, employers need to consider Long COVID as any other disability, even though it’s something new and evolving, something that we’re still learning about.
And just as employers aren’t required to make an alteration for those with disabilities if it causes “an undue hardship” or is too expensive, they might also not be required to do the same for those with Long COVID if it, the accommodation, too, might cause harmful results.
Even though Long COVID is not something that anyone wants to deal with or suffer from, the good thing that comes from it is that the U.S. government now acknowledges it as a disability. This is an important step in moving forward from COVID and dealing with its repercussions. And just like any other disability, if an impairment is limiting the activities in your life like work, you should receive benefits so that you can live your life the best you can. You shouldn’t have to suffer because of the long-term effects of the coronavirus.
If you have questions about your disability or whether your Long COVID diagnosis might qualify you for disability benefits, contact Lowery Law Group at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (843) 991-0733. There is no fee for a free consultation regarding your claim. Lowery Law Group is experienced in handling cases in South Carolina as well as Georgia.