Without question, the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the daily life of every American. While there is a lot we still don’t know about this disease, we do know that COVID-19 affects different people in different ways. Infected people can display a wide range of symptoms—from no symptoms at all to mild symptoms to severe illness, and tragically, sometimes it leads to a patient’s death.
But can COVID-19 be the basis for a successful disability claim? Like most legal issues, the answer is that it depends on the specific facts of the case.
If you are unable to work due to a disabling physical or mental impairment, the Social Security Administration has two programs which may be able to offer financial assistance—Social Security Disability Insurance—known as SSDI— for those who have worked in the past and made Social Security contributions, and Supplemental Security Income—known as SSI—which is designed to help those with little or no income. But to qualify for either program, you have to prove that your impairment has lasted or is expected to last for 12 months or longer. Most cases of COVID-19 only seem to last a week or two, which wouldn't meet Social Security's requirements.
However, it does appear that in some particularly severe cases, individuals may suffer from long-term medical issues that could qualify as severe impairments. For example, some patients with COVID-19 have developed acute respiratory distress syndrome which can cause long-term health issues. Impaired lung function can also negatively affect other organs like the heart, kidneys, and brain with residual symptoms that remain long after getting over the infection. Additionally, people who have undergone intensive medical care are at increased risk for mental health issues like post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and anxiety.
If you are incapacitated by one or more impairments arising from COVID-19 which prevent you from being able to sustain full-time regular employment, you may be eligible for Social Security disability benefits. However, the path to winning Social Security disability benefits can be difficult to navigate especially while living with a serious health condition. For this reason, a professional disability attorney who is in your corner can help you through the process and will fight for your rights. Call or email Cuddigan Law for a free evaluation of your situation. We can help you avoid costly disability mistakes.