Covid-19 is a serious and sometimes deadly disease. For most people who contract Covid, the symptoms are mild. However, some suffer very serious complications and may even require hospitalization. This is such a new disease that we still know very little about the long-term consequences of contracting Covid.
A few unfortunate souls already fall into this category of “Long Covid” or “Long-Haul Covid” sufferers. The symptoms of this condition parallel those encountered in diseases such as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome or myalgic encephalomyelitis: debilitating fatigue, muscle or body aches, persistent headaches, nausea, etc. Co-occurring are often increased feelings of depression and anxiety. And just like fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome, some members of the medical community think the cause of “Long Covid” is more psychological than physical.
To our knowledge, the Social Security Administration has not yet issued any guidance to its staff or judges about how to handle any claims for disability due to Long Covid. This is not surprising or unusual. A claimant seeking SSA disability benefits must have a “medically determinable impairment.” For many years, claimants diagnosed with fibromyalgia were denied by some SSA judges because fibromyalgia was not yet a “medically determinable impairment” under their guidelines. The SSA eventually acknowledged that fibromyalgia is a real syndrome which can have significant consequences for the sufferer.
If you are suffering from Long Covid, don’t worry about whether it is a “medically determinable impairment.” You need to do what every other claimant with a protracted illness must do: get treatment, as frequently as your physicians recommend, and follow physician treatment protocols. To prove disability caused by Covid, an applicant will need to provide medical records that show continuity of treatment since contracting the disease and document the severity of the symptoms they are suffering. Additional testimony, in the form of statements from family and friends, describing the severity of your impairment (that is, how those symptoms limit your functional capacity), will also be helpful.