Long COVID Sufferers Receive Eviction Notices Instead of Help They Were Promised
As our nation prepares to transition into our third year following the COVID-19 pandemic, many Americans are still struggling to recover from chronic and debilitating long COVID symptoms.
Despite the federal government’s promises of aid for sufferers of long COVID (also known as “long-haulers”), many affected individuals are fighting a losing battle to make ends meet. Not only are many COVID long-haulers facing unemployment and rapidly accumulating medical bills, but many affected Americans are now being evicted from their homes after falling behind on rent.
In April 2022, an official statement was released by the White House stating that the Biden-Harris Administration “has mobilized to advance our nation’s understanding of long COVID and its associated conditions, promote high-quality care for patients, and help individuals access supportive services.”
Despite this, more and more people affected by long COVID are finding themselves unable to obtain the alleged high-quality care and resources that were promised to help them get back on their feet. A recent report revealed that as many as 2-4 million Americans are still unable to return to work due to long COIVD. Many others have not only lost their jobs and homes, but have drained their savings just to make a dent in medical and/or legal expenses.
5 Barriers That Prevent Long COVID Sufferers from Getting Help
Many disabled Americans struggle to navigate the complex and time-consuming path to receive government assistance. While many fail to acquire the aid they rightfully deserve, the few who succeed are often forced to wait months or years.
The process to apply for Social Security disability assistance is a treacherous path that many disabled Americans struggle to navigate. Many fail to acquire the aid they need to return to work, pay off their medical bills, and stay afloat with monthly expenses. Those who succeed may face multiple denials before getting approved, assuming they get approved at all. Overall, the process can take years—a wait time significantly worsened by the pandemic, even two years after it struck.
What issues must our nation confront to get long-haulers the assistance they deserve? Consider these 5 barriers that must be addressed if we wish to rebuild our nation’s economy and protect its people post-pandemic:
#1. The SSA system is backlogged.
It’s no secret that the process to apply for any form of government aid is long and complicated. Unfortunately, COVID-19 has worsened existing problems for those in need of Social Security disability benefits due to long COVID.
While the SSA application process was time-consuming and complex prior to the pandemic, the system’s effectiveness was reduced even more when the department closed down during the pandemic and subsequently failed to make an efficient transition to remote services. Office closures stretched from March 2020 to April 2022, limiting access to needed resources.
The Social Security Administration recently identified approximately 40,000 COVID-related disability claims, and there are over 1 million disability claims awaiting processing in the SSA queue—a staggering statistic that may get worse before it gets better.
#2. There is no uniform process to diagnose long COVID.
Long COVID presents a broad range of symptoms that can vary drastically in severity, quantity, and duration. This and other factors make long COVID a challenge to formally diagnose in affected individuals, such as:
- Lack of a standardized diagnostic test
- Numerous medical uncertainties regarding the SARS-CoV-2 virus
- Limited research to understand the long-term impacts of COVID-19
Not only does the absence of uniform procedures and guidelines make it difficult for physicians and medical professionals to formally diagnose and treat COVID, but it can also make applying for benefits all the more challenging and confusing for long-haulers.
#3. Many applicants lack sufficient medical evidence to prove their condition.
Long COVID is only considered a disability under the following conditions:
- The condition poses a significant mental and/or physical impairment that substantially limits at least one major life activity; and
- Its symptoms persist for a minimum period of one year.
While these conditions may be true for many Americans suffering from long COVID, they can be exceedingly challenging to prove, leading many impacted individuals to have their claims rejected by the Social Security Administration. Obtaining the proper breadcrumb trail of medical evidence can be difficult for various reasons, including:
- The novelty of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Many Americans struggle to provide a sufficient amount of documentation due to the recency of the virus and their post-COVID condition. Those with shorter timelines may be at risk of rejection (for example, if a person suffered a mild COVID infection and didn't develop debilitating long COVID symptoms until a couple of years afterward).
- Affordability of medical care. Many long-haulers don’t have the financial means to collect required medical documentation as they cannot afford numerous appointments. This can be especially challenging for populations who were disproportionately impacted by the pandemic (such as BIPOC and LBGTQ+ communities) as they face inflated prices for housing and other necessities.
- Lack of standardized diagnostic tools. Many physicians may hesitate to diagnose an individual due to the many varying symptoms of long COVID. The inability to utilize a formal diagnostic test can make it difficult to understand if a person’s condition is the result of COVID-19 or another health issue, and may result in the inability to obtain a formal post-COVID condition diagnosis.
#4. The government recognized long COVID as a disability under the ADA, but not the Social Security Administration.
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) officially recognized long COVID as a disability in 2021. While long COVID is considered a formal disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), it does not extend to the Social Security Administration (SSA), which is the department responsible for our nation’s benefit programs.
Fortunately, the ADA does permit disabled individuals, including Americans with long COVID, to request reasonable accommodations in the workplace (such as flexible scheduling or additional breaks throughout the workday). However, this does little to help disabled individuals who are unable to return to work altogether due to the severity of their post-viral condition.
#5. The process can be challenging for long-haulers who suffer from brain fog or other significant symptoms.
There is a broad range of symptoms associated with long COVID that vary in severity. Brain fog is a common symptom that long-haulers report that entails sluggish thoughts and difficulty concentrating.
Given that the process of applying for government aid is already time intensive, confusing, and overwhelming for many Americans, one can assume that it’s all the more challenging for individuals affected by cognitive dysfunction—a common symptom of long COVID.
In addition to brain fog, other symptoms of post-COVID condition can further impair an applicant’s endurance, such as:
- Memory loss
- Cognitive deficits
- Psychiatric disorders (such as seizures and dementia)
- Symptoms that worsen with mental effort
- Chronic fatigue
- Joint and muscle pain
- Heart palpitations
- Vascular issues (such as blood clots)
Help from a Lawyer with Expertise in Disability Insurance
Disability insurance law is complex. Hiring an experienced disability attorney is important. Because all disability lawyers at this law firm focus on disability insurance claims, we proudly offer significant expertise in disability insurance law.
The Dabdoub Law Firm has:
- Experience with every major disability insurance company;
- A proven track record of success in winning major disability lawsuits;
- Recovered millions of dollars in disability benefits for clients;
We never charge fees or costs unless our clients get paid. Our firm can help at any stage of your disability insurance claim, including:
- Submitting a disability insurance claim;
- Appealing a long-term disability denial;
- Negotiating a lump-sum settlement; or
- Filing a lawsuit against your disability insurance company.
Because federal law applies to most disability insurance claims, our lawyers are able to represent clients across the country.
Call (800) 969-0488 or contact us online to speak with an experienced disability attorney. Consultations are free.