COVIDEven though the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic has subsided, since the onset of the disease around 500,000 active-duty service members have become ill with COVID-19. (The precise number is unclear because of conflicting data from the Defense Department and the military services.)

While contracting COVID-19 in and of itself isn't enough to qualify for VA disability benefits, if you are a Veteran who became ill with the disease while on active duty and suffer from other medical conditions, especially 'long COVID" due to your exposure, you may be eligible for VA benefits, including disability payments and medical care. According to the Center for Disease Control nearly 40% of American COVID-19 survivors continue to experience long-term symptoms even after their active infections have resolved. Anyone who has had COVID-19—no matter how mild or severe their symptoms were—can develop long COVID. For still unknown reasons, women develop long COVID at a rate nearly twice that of men.

These individuals, known as COVID “long haulers”, may experience one of more of these symptoms:

  • Altered sense of taste and/or smell
  • Tiredness or fatigue that interferes with daily life
  • Nagging cough or shortness of breath
  • Heart racing, skipping beats, palpitations or chest pain
  • Lightheadedness, dizziness or balance problems
  • Vision and memory problems or headaches
  • Increased anxiety, depression, stress or trouble sleeping
  • Abdominal pain or constipation

Any service member who developed COVID-19 symptoms during the specific time periods below may qualify for VA benefits related to their COVID-19 infection under the provisions of Public Law 116-315, the Veterans Health Care and Benefits Improvement Act of 2020:

  • Active duty of at least 48 hours between March 1, 2020, and Jan. 5, 2024.
  • Up to 14 days after at least 48 hours of active duty between March 1, 2020, and Jan. 5, 2024.
  • On, or up to 14 days after active duty for training, Title 10 or full-time National Guard orders between March 13, 2020, and Jan. 5, 2024.

Any service member who was diagnosed with COVID-19 during any of these periods of service is presumed to have contracted the illness as a direct result of their military service. A presumptive condition means that these Veterans who submit a VA disability claim for long COVID do not need to prove service-connection to qualify for VA disability benefits. As a result, filing a claim is a little bit easier, because they don’t need the usual amount of evidence to file a claim.

If you are a Veteran suffering the symptoms of long COVID the VA advises that you may be eligible for free health care for your condition and you should contact your VA medical team. If you are not currently enrolled in VA health care, you should call 800-698-2411 for assistance.

You may also be eligible for a monthly tax-free disability payment from the VA. Contact the VA accredited attorneys at Cuddigan for help in filing for compensation. We offer a free, no-strings- attached evaluation of your case, so call or email us today.


Sean D. Cuddigan
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SSA and VA Disability Attorney in Omaha, Nebraska
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