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Are People with Long COVID eligible for Social Security Disability Benefits?

January 18, 2022

By Shelley W. Elovitz, Esquire

We are still learning what the long-term effects of COVID may be but some people who contracted the virus early in the pandemic are already dealing with COVID-related disabilities that have lasted well past 12 months. Are these people with Long COVID eligible for Social Security Disability Benefits? The answer is, it depends.

On April 16, 2021, the Social Security Administration (SSA) released guidance for people with long COVID.* The first step in the process is establishing a Medically Determinable Impairment (MDI) that was caused by COVID. Furthermore, the evidence must be from an Acceptable Medical Source (AMS). To determine an MDI, the claimant must have:

  • A report of a positive viral test for SARS-CoV-2,
  • A diagnostic test with findings consistent with COVID-19 (e.g., chest x-ray with lung abnormalities, etc.), or
  • A diagnosis of COVID-19 with signs consistent with COVID-19 (e.g., fever, cough, etc.).

It is important to note that an At-Home COVID test may not be enough to establish a Medically Determinable Impairment under current rules.

In addition to meeting the MDI requirement, applicants must also meet the severity and duration requirements as well. Evidence of a new or worsening MDI must be presented. The applicant must also demonstrate a period of time during which a person is continuously unable to engage in substantial gainful activity (SGA) because of one or more MDIs. A continuous 12 month period is the baseline.

Because COVID appears to affect people in different ways with different ailments, everyone’s experience applying for SSDI benefits will be unique. If you test positive for COVID, it is vital that you contact healthcare provider and seek care. It is also advisable to engage a Social Security Disability attorney to guide you through the process. While not a guarantee that you will be eligible for SSDI benefits should you suffer from Long COVID, documentation throughout your care will certainly strengthen your claim.

If you believe you may be Long COVID eligible for Social Security Disability, contact us online or call (412) 338-1183.

*This guidance was updated by the SSA in June 2023. Please see our more recent article Social Security Administration (SSA) issues new guidance for long COVID sufferers.

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