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In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, a new term has emerged: Long COVID. This condition refers to the lingering symptoms experienced by some individuals after their initial recovery from the virus. But is Long COVID considered a disability? This question has significant implications for those affected and their ability to access support and accommodations. In this blog post, we delve into the details to provide a comprehensive answer on when Long COVID may be considered a disability.
Understanding Long COVID
Long COVID, also known as post-acute sequelae of SARS-CoV-2 infection (PASC), is characterized by a range of new or ongoing symptoms that can last weeks, months, or even years after the initial recovery from the virus. Symptoms can include fatigue, difficulty thinking or concentrating (often referred to as “brain fog”), shortness of breath, headache, dizziness, heart palpitations, chest pains, cough, joint or muscle pain, depression or anxiety, and loss of taste or smell. In some cases, Long COVID can also result in organ damage.
Is Long COVID a Disability?
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) have provided some guidance on this matter. According to the EEOC, determining whether Long COVID may be considered a “disability” under the law involves a fact-intensive determination of whether COVID symptoms, long-term effects, or how it exacerbated symptoms of another condition, “substantially limit one or more major life activity.”
In other words, an individual suffering, even intermittently, from certain symptoms relating to Long COVID can be considered to be “disabled” under the law. A mental or psychological disorder, such as an emotional or mental illness, that “substantially limits one or more major life activity” can also be considered a disability.
Implications for Social Security Disability
The Social Security Administration (SSA) has also provided some guidance on this matter. For the SSA to consider Long COVID as a disabling impairment, it has to be medically determined that the impairment is going to last or has lasted for at least 12 months. A medically determinable impairment must be proven through objective medical evidence and lab findings.
Long COVID Disability is a Unique Case
While Long COVID can be considered a disability under certain conditions, it’s important to note that each case is unique and will be evaluated on an individual basis. If you or a loved one is experiencing Long COVID and believe that your symptoms are serious enough, it may be beneficial to consult with a legal professional to understand your rights and potential eligibility for disability benefits.
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