Can COVID-19 Long Haulers Get Social Security Disability Benefits?

covid-19 long haulers

Principal Attorney Paulette Balin talks about COVID-19 and its long-term impacts affecting many people known as “COVID-19 long haulers.” Some long-term conditions that we are beginning to see from COVID include lung and breathing problems, heart conditions, and effects on the brain. These lingering conditions are preventing people from working like they once could, and some are wondering if it’s possible to get Social Security disability benefits from COVID symptoms. Watch this short video or read on to learn more about COVID-19 long haulers and who might be eligible for Social Security disability benefits.

Video Transcript: COVID-19 Long Haulers and Social Security Disability Benefits


I’m Paulette Balin and I’m the Principal Attorney at Balin Law. We are a full-service Social Security disability law firm and take pride in handling disability claims from soup to nuts. We are going to discuss, what is truly an unfortunate situation caused by COVID-19, which has affected all of us, but it’s unique to COVID-19 in that the phrase for it is called “COVID-19 long haulers.” It’s people who have been afflicted with the COVID-19 virus and who, notwithstanding medical treatment, et cetera, continue to have residual serious limitations, functional limitations, flowing from the disease. For the most part, it impacts the lungs, respiratory problems, but it can also affect the heart and it can affect the brain. And as a matter of fact, not too long ago, there was a whole story on 60 Minutes about long haulers in the clinic in Manhattan that is specially created to help treat people afflicted with long haulers, because these are just normal people that get this virus and they just can’t return to their normal functioning. It’s really tragic and we are here to help those people.

COVID-19 & Disability Benefit Eligibility

As a general rule for eligibility, people that file for disability have to prove that they have an impairment that has lasted or is expected to last 12 continuous months. Now, many businesses have shuttered because of the closures by the governors of many businesses. And those people have been unemployed and they are rightfully collecting unemployment benefits. But what happens when they get COVID-19 and become long haulers? Are they able to then pursue disability benefits? And the answer is, of course. Most people that were getting, especially the $600 a week surplus for unemployment benefits, actually were probably getting more money in unemployment benefits than they would get in Social Security disability benefits, but those monies run out after a while. But with Social Security disability, there are so many benefits that you get including Medicare coverage after you’re found disabled for two years. There’s an emergency teletype that Social Security has promulgated that tracks people that have indicated on their disability claims that they have suffered from COVID-19.

The long haulers, however, are a unique subset of people that have been afflicted with the COVID-19 virus in that they cannot function the way they used to. And in a way, it’s not that different from any other disability claim in that there’s a five-step sequential evaluation. You have to prove you’re disabled. You have to prove that, first of all, if it’s a disability insurance claim, that you’ve got an insured status, that you have an impairment that has lasted or is expected to last 12 months, there is no medical listing per se. I call those bingo benefits, but there’s nothing per se that says, “I’m a long hauler, therefore, ding, ding, ding, you win.” So forget that, you just move on to the fourth step of the sequential evaluation to see whether you can do your past relevant work, which is the way you did the job or the way it’s typically done in the national economy.

Does COVID Prevent You From Working Like You Once Could?

If you cannot do the job as you did it, or the way it’s done in the economy, then the burden shifts to Social Security to see, in the light of the functional limitations that you have, what other jobs exist out there in the economy that you can do. And the problem with the COVID-19 long haulers is that the symptoms from it manifest itself in so many ways. You can have breathing problems, for example, if you had breathing problems before you were afflicted with the long hauler syndrome, you can imagine now your respiratory problems are even more exacerbated or there’s what’s called brain fog where you just have memory loss and you just can’t remember things the way you used to, or you’ve got those drops in your cognitive abilities. You had a high powered job and you just forget things. So clearly, the ramifications from the disease of being a long hauler can be enormous in terms of knocking out the past jobs that you’ve done and other jobs that exist in the national economy.

If You’re a COVID-19 Long Hauler, Contact Balin Law

So I would encourage any and all of you, if you have any questions about it, to contact us at Balin Law. We’re here to help. We’ve been doing this since 1980, and we have had a lot of good experience in this area, even though it is so very new. We’ve had quite a few clients come to us with these problems. As a matter of fact, we just had a TSA worker come the other day, who can’t go back to his job as a TSA worker because he’s got really bad asthma and he can’t be exposed to people. That’s going to knock out his past job, but then of course, we’re going to have to address what other jobs that exist in the national economy for him. Thank you and feel free to call us at (866) 492-2546. Thank you.

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