While the SSA doesn’t yet list long COVID as an official condition, you can still qualify for monthly benefits and healthcare if your long COVID interferes with your ability to work. In 2021, the Social Security Administration (SSA) awarded disability benefits to 212,399 workers with respiratory diseases like long COVID.
To help you qualify, we’ll explain how the SSA defines long COVID, when it can qualify for disability, and how to get benefits for long COVID.
Yes! Long COVID is a disability if it makes it impossible for you to work for at least one year, according to the SSA.
The SSA doesn’t have an official listing for long COVID in its directory of disabilities (its Blue Book), but you may qualify if you had COVID-19 and your symptoms last for months or years afterward. Long COVID may include symptoms like fatigue, shortness of breath, brain fog, and trouble sleeping for an extended period of time. It’s also likely that your condition hasn’t improved with treatment.
There are a number of health conditions that you may experience alongside long COVID and that may make it easier for you to qualify for disability benefits. If your long COVID caused or exacerbated any of the following, you may be able to qualify due to these conditions:
Learn more about other conditions that qualify for Social Security disability benefits.
You can get disability for long COVID if your symptoms or a resulting condition make it impossible for you to hold a job and will last for at least one year. However, even if your long COVID has caused another condition, qualifying for Social Security disability is challenging. You’ll have to prove that your long COVID meets the SSA’s strict criteria.
You can increase your odds of approval by working with a disability lawyer. They’ll be able to give you advice based on your personal situation.
To be eligible for disability, you need proof that your long COVID causes severe symptoms that keep you from working.
Here are some criteria that may improve your chances of approval with long COVID:
If you answer yes to most of the following questions, you may qualify for disability:
If your long COVID meets the criteria and you have documented medical evidence, you’re ready to apply for disability. You can still apply if you’re unsure whether or not you’ll get approved, but the application is lengthy and may only be worth it if your odds of approval are high. Here’s what we recommend:
Apply now if:
Consider waiting and applying later if:
Probably don’t apply if:
You can also find out whether or not you’ll qualify by taking our free 2-minute disability quiz. If you do qualify, we can connect you with a disability lawyer who can increase your odds of approval. (You’ll only pay your lawyer if you win your benefits claim.)
There are two types of benefits programs available through the SSA: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). The type of benefit you should apply for depends on your work and income history. If you’ve worked at least five of the last 10 years, consider applying for SSDI. If you have no work history and little to no monthly income, SSI may be the better option.
Both programs share the same application, so you can apply for both and let the SSA determine which will give you the better benefits. It’s also possible to receive both SSDI and SSI at the same time.
The average monthly disability check for respiratory diseases like long COVID is $1,384.27. But the amount of your personal disability payment depends on your work and income history. Regardless of your condition, the maximum monthly benefit for SSDI is about $3,600, while SSI offers a maximum of $914 per month in 2023.
Qualifying for disability is challenging no matter how severe your condition is. Long COVID isn’t a listed condition, so qualifying depends on your ability to prove how severe your symptoms are. But even if you have plenty of evidence, only 20% of people get approved on their first application. Most people who win their benefits need to go through an appeals process.
If you’re over the age of 50 or have another qualifying condition, it might still be worth applying now. The process is long ans the sooner you apply, the sooner you can potentially get benefits. If you’re under the age of 50 and your symptoms are mild or moderate, you might wait to see how your condition progresses.
Whether you apply now or wait, don’t be afraid to appeal your case. Half of the applicants who appeal their case in front of a judge get approved at that stage. Applicants who work with a disability lawyer are also three times more likely to win benefits.
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