The COVID-19 public health emergency may cause you to wonder about whether infectious diseases can be disabilities? It’s truly a tough question to answer. However, that is the topic we will explore in this article.
What is an infectious disease?
Measles, chickenpox, anthrax, West Nile, Coronavirus (COVID-19), hantavirus pulmonary syndrome, Hepatitis A (acute), Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, HIV infection, Lyme disease, malaria, mumps, plague, influenza, severe acute respiratory syndrome-associated coronavirus disease, tuberculosis, and many more.
This type of condition can spread through direct contact with someone who has the infection. Some diseases can even be passed from animal to person.
Many of these diseases are treatable. People may recover with little to no long-term effects. Others stay in the body and crop up later. For example, some people who have had chickenpox later develop shingles.
Some infectious diseases do cause those infected with them to become disabled. However, will these infectious diseases be disabilities when someone is applying for disability benefits?
When do infectious diseases become disabilities?
As you can see, the term ‘infectious disease’ covers a wide range of illnesses. Some are minor, and some are not. The issue is what the Social Security Administration (“Social Security”) looks for an infectious disease that makes it a disability.
Social Security defines disability as:
“…the inability to engage in any substantial gainful activity (SGA) by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment(s) which can be expected to result in death or which has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months.”
Under this definition, many conditions like influenza and measles usually would not be considered disabling.
However, some infections may qualify as disabilities because:
- The infections are resistant to treatment.
- The infected person has to be hospitalized or have IV treatments more than three times in a 12-month period.
A person may be disabled if stem cell transplantation is needed.
Finally, an infectious disease involving immune deficiency may be a disability if there are limitations of:
- Activities of daily living,
- Maintaining social function, and
- Difficulty concentrating, finishing tasks, and working as quickly as required.
Generally, an infectious disease that meets Social Security’s definition of disability might qualify for benefits like Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
The Question About Infectious Diseases Is Difficult to Answer
However, if you are unable to work because of a medical condition, you may qualify for disability benefits. Talk your case over with a lawyer as soon as possible.
For a free consultation with an experienced Social Security attorney, consult with an attorney at The Law Offices of Martin Taller. Call us at 714-385-8100. We assist clients through Southern California from our home office in Anaheim.