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Could Covid-19 Qualify for Disability Benefits?

As the nation considers lifting some of the restrictions on daily life in the face of an unprecedented pandemic, we’re all going to have to start figuring out how to deal with impact of the novel coronavirus on our daily lives.

While infection rates are still relatively low in most of the country, there’s no doubt that Covid-19, the respiratory condition caused by the coronavirus, can be devastating.

But could it be the basis for a successful disability claim?

Well, like most legal issues, the answer is “it depends.”

Social Security considers a severe impairment to be an impairment or combination of impairments that significantly limit the claimant’s physical or mental abilities and therefore interfere with the individual’s ability to perform basic work activities.

A severe impairment must last, or be expected to last 12 months or more, or be expected to result in death.

Part of the difficulty in arguing that Covid-19 is a severe impairment is that we just don’t know a lot about the virus or the disease it causes right now.

Most cases of Covid-19 only seem to last a week or two, so that wouldn’t meet Social Security’s requirements. While the disease’s higher mortality rate could be the basis for a successful disability claim, it’s extremely unlikely that such an application would be processed before a claimant’s death, particularly with the Social Security Administration currently dealing with most of its workforce working from home.

However, it does appear that in some particularly severe cases, particularly hose where individuals are put on ventilators, they may suffer from long-term lung issues that would indeed qualify as a severe impairment.

Some individuals have also reported increased depression after being taken off a ventilator, which could also be considered a severe impairment if it meets the 12-month durational requirement.

So while there’s a lot that we just don’t know about the long-term impact of Covid-19, an experienced disability attorney could use the effects of the condition to make a case for disability.

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