After being in the hospital for two weeks, Rosa wondered if she could go back to work. Recovering from COVID-19 had been difficult, and she still did not feel 100%. Her doctors then told her she might have suffered heart damage from the disease. Since she still needed to support herself and her family, Rosa wondered if the long-term effects of COVID-19 were considered a disability that could qualify her for disability benefits.
The current public health emergency has raised many questions in people’s minds. For example, whether COVID-19, a form of coronavirus, will cause long-term health effects may be unclear at this time.
Let’s look at how the Social Security Administration decides whether someone is disabled.
The Social Security Administration (“Social Security”) manages two disability benefit programs: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). People with disabilities might qualify for either or both programs. When disability is involved, however, the disabling condition must satisfy Social Security’s definition of disability.
Generally, someone is considered disabled if they are unable “to engage in any substantial gainful activity (SGA)” because of a physical or mental impairment that “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.”
But does this mean COVID-19 can be considered a disability?
COVID-19 and the Listing of Impairments
Social Security requires proof that you have a condition that is incapacitating. Some diseases are disabling only when they reach a certain level. For example, some people with arthritis may be able to work while others cannot. To determine whether a condition is a disability, Social Security personnel refer to the Listing of Impairments.
This list sets out the medical criteria that Social Security uses to evaluate a condition. COVID-19 might fit under Section 3.00 Respiratory Disorders. However, COVID-19 might last only a few weeks or a few months. Unless COVID-19 has severe, long-term debilitating effects, it may not satisfy Social Security. However, if someone with COVID-19 is expected to die from the disease, will Social Security pay benefits through the Compassionate Allowance program?
Disability benefits are complicated, even with common ailments. With COVID-19, there may be more questions than answers at this point.
Do You Need to Find Out if Your COVID-19 Can Be Considered a Disability?
One problem is that many COVID-19 patients had serious underlying medical conditions before being diagnosed with the disease. Did their underlying conditions cause their disability, or did the coronavirus?
The jury is still out on whether COVID-19 survivors will see the long-term effects of the disease. However, you can be sure that Social Security will require proof of disability before awarding benefits.
If you have had coronavirus, call to see if your condition might qualify for SSDI and SSI. At The Law Offices of Martin Taller, your case gets the attention and care of experienced Social Security Disability attorneys. Call us at 714-385-8100 to set up a free consultation. Though our office is conveniently located in Anaheim, we assist clients throughout Southern California.