Government Disability Benefits are Becoming Increasingly Difficult to Obtain for Those with Long-Term COVID
When Josephine Cabrera Taveras contracted COVID-19 in 2020, she had no idea that the illness would render her unable to work for two years and put her family in danger of being evicted.
Mother-of-two Taveras of Brooklyn, New York, claims that her battle with long-term Covid has left her struggling with crippling symptoms, such as respiratory problems and arthritis, which have prevented her from returning to work as a nanny. As a result, Taveras and her family struggle to pay for their pills because they cannot work and are not eligible for government assistance, such as Social Security Disability Insurance.
Taveras, like many others with lengthy Covid, has been unable to navigate a system that was already time-consuming and challenging before the Covid pandemic. According to health experts and a good San Francisco disability insurance lawyer, people are dealing with years-long wait times, inadequate legal support, and a lack of clear instructions on how to prove their disability. These problems are worsened because the medical system does not have a standard procedure for diagnosing long-term conditions.
The Biden administration promised long-term Covid patients to support, but patient activists claim many are having difficulty accessing government assistance.
What is long-term Covid? Long-term Covid conditions are broadly defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as a range of continuous health concerns that might last weeks, months, or longer. This definition covers individuals with less severe symptoms, including a persistent loss of scent, and those unable to work, like Taveras.
According to spokesperson Nicole Tiggemann, the Social Security Administration has found roughly 40,000 disability applications that indicate a Covid infection at some stage. Unknown numbers of persons with long-term conditions are among the ‘more than 1 million disability claims’ that Social Security has not yet processed.
As long-term Covid patients frequently lack the solid medical documentation that federal officials seek, protracted waits for disability assistance often result in refusal, according to Geist. The diagnosis of long-term Covid is not standardized. Social Security has yet to issue precise advice on evaluating Covid claims.
According to a recent analysis from the Brookings Institution, 2 million to 4 million people lack employment due to long commutes. According to a National Bureau of Economic Research research released in September, the number is 500,000. According to advocates, many people with long-term conditions may soon begin applying for government benefits since they haven’t yet realized how necessary they are.
The Department of Health and Human Services formally recognized long-term illness as a handicap in July 2021. Expanding on this acknowledgment, the agency and the White House released a report in August 2022 that lists the “services and supports” available for those with long-term conditions and other people affected by the epidemic in a way that has lasted a long time.
According to Juliana Reno, a New York attorney specializing in employee benefits, long-term patients who can still work are permitted by the ADA to request adjustments from their employers, such as a place to rest or a more flexible schedule. However, Social Security has stricter requirements: to qualify for disability benefits, individuals must demonstrate that their chronic ailments are so incapacitating that they cannot work.
Sbrana claimed that the application process was extremely difficult and perplexing for patients. Additionally, having this extensive breadcrumb trail of medical proof is necessary. The entire process of making an appeal, getting rejected, and appealing again can take a year or more, by which time the bills pile up, leading to dire situations.
The scenario is made more difficult because many persons with extended Covid lack the financial means to employ a San Francisco disability insurance lawyer or access a doctor who can assist with their documents.
Patient advocacy groups are advocating for a more streamlined application procedure, detailed instructions for authorities reviewing lengthy Covid cases, and quicker eligibility for Medicare benefits following the approval of a disability application. (A two-year wait is usual.)