The Corona virus pandemic has affected each and every one of us. But some of us have been especially hard-hit, those with chronic symptoms resulting from Covid-19. The medical community has dubbed this chronic problem as Post-Acute Sequela of Covid-19. Some Longhaulers’s symptoms will be so severe, that it impacts every aspect of their lives and prevents them from returning to work.
If you are unable to work, you may qualify for state disability benefits depending on where you live. In California, state disability (SDI) can pay benefits for up to one year. If you are unable to work for more than one year, you should pursue a Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or supplemental security income (SSI) claim if you qualify. If you have a long-term disability (LTD) policy either individually or through work, you would also want to pursue an LTD claim.
SSDI and SSI
When can a person with Longhauler Syndrome qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or supplemental security income (SSI) benefits? As with all medical conditions, you must show that your condition has prevented you from working 12 months or more or is expected to do so for at least 12 months. If you apply too soon, Social Security may deny you and say they expect your condition to improve before the 12 month mark. Therefore, it’s usually best to wait until you have been out of work at least six months to apply unless you have a terminal illness. For SSDI, you must have worked 5 of the past 10 years prior to the onset of your disability to be “insured.” SSI has income and resource limits.
To be approved for Social Security benefits, there are two approaches. First, Social Security will approve an individual if the person’s condition meets all of the criteria of one of Social Security’s listed medical impairments. Or, your condition must be “equal” in severity to one of the listed impairments. The second way to get approved is to show that you are unable to do your “Past Relevant Work” and cannot adjust to other work based on your age, education, and medical condition.
How to Prove Disability
You must have medical documentation to prove that you are unable to work. It is critical that you find a doctor that is understanding of your condition and supportive of your claim. When applying for benefits, it is helpful if your doctor will provide a strong letter of support or complete a medical source statement giving his/her opinion regarding your functional limitations. Also, you should see your doctor regularly, at least every three months, and provide your doctor with a list of your symptoms to be included in your medical chart. We recommend that people also keep a journal of symptoms that can be provided to a doctor as well as to Social Security. If you are down during the day, make sure to document this.
Request Medical Records
Be sure to request your medical records to make sure your doctor is properly documenting your condition. You will also have the opportunity to see if your doctor is understanding of your condition and supportive of your claim.
Depending on the types of symptoms you are having, you may want to pursue certain tests. If you have severe fatigue with exertion, similar to chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS), cardiopulmonary exercise testing (CPET) provides objective evidence of your fatigue and post-exertional malaise. We recommend a 2-day test-retest protocol utilized by the Workwell foundation, with the thorough report they provide.
If you are having symptoms of orthostatic hypotension, a tilt-table test can be valuable objective evidence. For those experiencing cognitive difficulties such as memory problems and brain fog, a neuropsychological test can provide objective findings.
When completing forms for Social Security, keep your answers short. If someone helps you complete a questionnaire, indicate what help you received. If it took you many days or weeks to complete something, also indicate this. Be honest, and make sure not to sound better than you are.
Don’t Give up
The Social Security process can be lengthy and frustrating. Don’t give up. The Social Security administration denies up to 80% of applicants in the hopes that people will give up. A full discussion of the process is available on our website, but in individuals with Longhauler syndrome, you may be denied at the initial and reconsideration levels, and need to go before an Administrative Law Judge for a hearing.
When Should I *-**Hire a Lawyer?
We generally recommend waiting until you have been unable to work at least six months. You may wish to apply on your own, and if denied, hire an attorney. However, we do take some cases at the application level.
Please contact Leland Law for a free consultation at 800-772-8118 or use our online contact form.
Webinar: Covid-19 Longhauler Advocacy Projects BenefitsChat – Disability Insurance
Recording of the webinar: http://bit.ly/Longhaulerswebinar
Neurological Symptoms Common in COVID Long Haulers by Cari M. Schwartz Workwell Foundation Long COVID Alliance Survivor Corps COVID-19 Longhauler Advocacy Project | Facebook Covid Care Group Body Politic