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COVID Long Haulers May Qualify for Disability Protections and Social Security Benefits

September 14, 2021

COVID-19 Long Haulers

In honor of the 31st anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (the ADA), the Biden Administration announced increased support for COVID Long Haulers who struggle with the lingering effects of COVID-19. As part of this support, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Justice issued guidance explaining that Long COVID can be a disability under multiple federal civil rights laws. These laws—specifically, the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and the Affordable Care Act—protect people with disabilities from discrimination in many settings, including education and public accommodations. These laws are also very different from the Social Security Act, which provides disability insurance to those who can no longer work.

Federal Laws Guarantee Reasonable Accommodations to Those with Long COVID Disabilities

In addition to barring outright mistreatment, the ADA and other civil rights laws entitle those with disabilities to reasonable accommodations in everyday life. For example, a student suffering from Long COVID brain fog might receive extra time on an exam. Or a Long Hauler who cannot pump their own gas due to joint pain may get help from the station attendant. Being diagnosed with Long COVID, however, does not automatically mean you get these accommodations. Instead, among other issues, Long COVID impairments must substantially limit at least one major life activity. To fully understand your rights under these laws, it is a good idea to speak with licensed counsel about your unique situation.

Social Security Disability Determinations are Unique to Social Security

It is also vital to consult with an experienced attorney to understand how you can qualify for Long-Term disability and/or Social Security Disability benefits after a Long COVID diagnosis. Being a Long Hauler does not automatically mean you will receive Social Security benefits. As the Social Security Administration explained in its April 2021 Emergency Measure, Long COVID cases are analyzed like all other disability claims. As part of this process, you must show that your impairment is expected to last for at least 12 months and prevent you from substantial gainful activity. Next, Social Security considers whether your impairments meet or equal specific disability listings. If you do not meet or equal Social Security’s disability listings, then you would need to show that you cannot do your past relevant work and that you cannot do other jobs in the national economy. This last step is dependent on many factors, including your age, education, and work experience.

Social Security’s disability determination process is COMPLETELY SEPARATE from being considered disabled under the ADA and other federal civil rights laws. As a result, it is vital to work with attorneys who understand Social Security’s unique disability process. An attorney who represents disabled people in education or employment is not the same as a Social Security Disability attorney. This is a very important difference that can make or break your case.

Balin Brings Benefits for COVID Long Haulers

With over 40 years’ experience helping those with Social Security Disability and Long-Term Disability, we know that Balin Brings Benefits. We understand the nuances of Social Security and can help COVID Long Haulers enjoy their full benefits and rights. COVID-19 has changed everything and is impacting our way of life and the law on a near daily basis. We can help you keep up with these developments and protect you and your family in the face of Long COVID. Contact the experienced Social Security disability attorneys at Balin Law for a free consultation at 866-49-BALIN (866-492-2546) or contact us online.

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