As we continue through the COVID-19 pandemic, researchers have discovered that some individuals who have recovered from the virus will go on to experience symptoms that linger well beyond testing negative for the virus. These individuals are considered to have post-COVID syndrome. Some of the symptoms of post-COVID syndrome include fatigue, difficulty breathing, joint pain, chest pain, brain fog (including the inability to concentration and impaired memory), depression, anxiety, loss of taste and/or smell and sleep issues. It is not yet known how long these symptoms can persist, but it is known that they can last at least six (6) months or longer in some people.
The Social Security Administration defines disability as the inability to do any substantial gainful activity by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment which can be expected to result in death, or which has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than twelve (12) months. The Social Security Administration released an emergency message in December 2020 regarding disability cases with an allegation of COVID-19 as a medical condition stating, “we will apply the COVID-19 flag to all cases when a person alleges COVID-19 as a medical condition, or when we discover a person has a medically determinable impairment of COVID-19.” The COVID related impairment must prevent you from working for twelve (12) months, but Social Security will consider more than just long term COVID symptoms in considering the duration. If COVID caused a new impairment, such as kidney failure, or makes an existing condition worse, such as COPD, that would help you to meet the twelve (12) month requirement.
If you have had COVID-19 and continue to suffer from lingering symptoms, here are a few things you need to do to show Social Security that your symptoms are disabling. You will need to have record of a positive COVID-19 test, with signs of your illness and a record of your symptoms, evidence of the limitations caused by your conditions and how they affect your ability to work and medical documentation that your inability to work has lasted, or is expected to last, twelve (12) months. It is very important that you continue going to your doctors to document your symptoms and how your limitations keep you from leading a normal life, including your ability to work.