According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”), around 7.5 percent of American adults have long COVID. This condition refers to a variety of symptoms that can last more than three months after someone gets COVID-19.
In some cases, long COVID symptoms can be debilitating enough that they keep an individual from enjoying life normally. They may also keep someone from working or earning enough income to support their lifestyle. In these cases, individuals suffering from long COVID symptoms might wonder if they have the option to file a disability claim with their insurer.
If you are experiencing such symptoms, learn more about whether long COVID is recognized as a potential disability and what options you have for applying for benefits in California, as well as learning how a life and disability insurance claims lawyer can help.
What Is Long COVID?
The CDC notes that people with long COVID can experience a wide range of symptoms, and not everyone with this condition has the same severity of symptoms.
To be considered long COVID symptoms, the conditions must have started when someone contracted the COVID-19 virus or after that. If symptoms were present before someone contracted COVID, they would likely be considered part of another condition or disease process.
Some symptoms associated with long COVID include:
- Brain fog, which refers to challenges with concentration, focus, or memory
- Trouble breathing or experiencing random shortness of breath
- Fatigue or tiredness that does not have other obvious causes
- Dizziness, especially when standing
- Unexplained cough
- Aches or soreness in joints and muscles that cannot be explained
- Pain in the chest that is not associated with another condition
- Heart palpitations, which are fast or irregular beatings of the heart
- A loss of taste or smell that may come and go
- Anxiety or depression
Is Long COVID Recognized as a Disability?
Yes, long COVID is recognized as a potential disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”). The ADA includes provisions to protect people with disabilities.
Guidance from federal agencies notes that long COVID can be considered a protected disability under the ADA when it “substantially limits one or more major life activities.”
Some activities considered under this umbrella include:
- Caring for oneself, such as bathing, dressing, and preparing and eating meals
- Using natural senses, including seeing and hearing
- Breathing in a manner that supports normal activity
- Reading and writing
- Speaking, communicating and interacting with others
But, just because it is a recognized disability under the ADA does not necessarily mean you will qualify as totally or partially disabled under a long-term or short-term disability policy, as we discuss below.
Can You Apply for Short or Long Term Disability Benefits Through Your Insurance Company Because of Long COVID in California?
If you have disability insurance provided through an employer or purchased separately from an insurance company, the answer is yes.
Depending on the definition of disability under your short-term disability policy or long-term disability policy, you may be able to apply for benefits through your individual or group disability insurance company based on long COVID. However, not every case of long COVID is considered a disability by insurance companies. An assessment is required for each case to determine whether the symptoms associated with the condition impact your ability to perform your job or some other job for which you are qualified by education, training and experience.
Insurance policies define “disabled” differently. Generally speaking, an insurance policy may provide short-term or long-term disability benefits if a claimant is unable to perform the material duties of their regular job because of an injury or sickness. Insurance companies typically look at how that type of job is performed across the country instead of with the specific employer. Long-term disability policies may also provide benefits on this basis for a limited time, such as two years. After two years, long-term disability policies usually changes the definition of disability such that the claimant is disabled if he or she is unable to perform any job when considering the claimant’s education, training and experience.
For example, if someone has brain fog and fatigue related to long COVID that is annoying and unpleasant but does not impact the performance of their job duties, they would be not be approved for disability benefits. However, if someone has cognitive long COVID symptoms that are impacting memory to the degree they are unable to perform their job, they may qualify for benefits.
In another example, someone who experiences minor shortness of breath every few weeks due to long COVID may not see a substantial impact on their ability to work. In comparison, someone who experiences trouble breathing on a daily basis due to lung damage associated with COVID may be unable to work and go about their regular daily activities. This may enable them to receive disability benefits.
How Can the McKennon Law Group Help?
To qualify for disability benefits from a disability insurance company due to long COVID symptoms, you must demonstrate that your symptoms impact your ability to work. To do this, you must undergo an evaluation and may need to present medical records and other documents in support of your claim.
Applying for disability benefits through an insurance company can be a long and frustrating process, especially if your claim is denied. The nature of long COVID symptoms can make it easier for insurance companies to deny disability claims—just as they can increase the chance of insurance bad faith disability denials.
Having an experienced disability and life insurance claims attorney on your side can help you make your case for a short-term or long-term disability claim. At McKennon Law Group PC, we offer guidance and support that helps you get through the disability application or appeals process if your claim gets denied. Our team has over seven decades of experience in dealing with disability insurance claims, and we are not afraid to face off against large insurance companies to fight for your rights.
To find out more about how we can help with your long COVID disability claim, call McKennon Law Group PC today and request a free consultation.