Many people who have had COVID-19 have been able to recover, but what happens when someone with COVID-19 doesn’t get better? Some people continue to experience disabling symptoms that can last for months or even a year after first infection, or they may have new or recurring symptoms. These individuals, referred to as “long haulers,” may still face struggles like breathing problems, brain fog, chronic pain, and fatigue. These symptoms can sometimes rise to the level of a disability, which means that long haulers may be entitled to accommodations from their employers or benefits under a disability insurance policy.
Under the Americans with Disability Act (“ADA”), a person with long-haul COVID may have a disability if the person’s condition or any of their symptoms is a “physical or mental” impairment that “substantially limits” one or more major life activities. A “physical impairment” includes any physiological disorder or condition affecting one or more body systems, a definition that encompasses long-COVID symptoms. For example, someone who has lung damage due to COVID that causes shortness of breath, fatigue, and related effects would be substantially limited in their respiratory function as well as other major life activities. Under the ADA, a person with a disability may be entitled to a reasonable accommodation, including leave, part-time working, or job restructuring.
If you have disability insurance at work and can show that long-term COVID prevents you from working, you may be able to get disability benefits – most often 60%-70% of your regular salary until you are no longer disabled. Because some of the symptoms of long-term COVID, like chronic pain or fatigue, are difficult to measure or prove, getting insurance companies to pay claims out can be difficult. Ensuring that your disability is properly documented through medical records is critical. If your claim for benefits is denied, hiring a disability benefits lawyer to represent you can make all the difference.