Experts Predict Long COVID Will Be a “Mass Disabling Event” of Historic Proportions
Americans with Long COVID Soars to 25 Million
By the time the Delta wave of the SARS-CoV-2 virus struck in 2021, approximately 11 million Americans were believed to have long COVID. According to daily updates since that estimate, the number has now risen to a staggering 25 million—and even this may be an underrepresentation of true statistics.
Assuming those numbers hold true, we can estimate that 1 in 6 Americans are currently suffering from long COVID (also referred to as post-COVID condition). This means that at least 56 billion U.S. residents are currently suffering from long COVID symptoms.
Challenges & Effects of Long COVID
It’s no secret that long COVID is challenging to formally diagnose, let alone treat. While various ongoing studies and research are yielding more information each day, our nation is far from nailing down definitive answers regarding the long-term effects of COVID-19.
Long COVID is both difficult to study and challenging to predict, not to mention poses a disorienting range of symptoms and severity. With such tumultuous data arising far and wide, it can be difficult to keep up. The most cited symptoms of post-COVID condition include:
- Shortness of breath
- Difficulty concentrating
- Muscle aches
Additional symptoms include debilitating fatigue, brain fog, digestive issues, chest pain, cough, short-term memory loss, and sleep disturbances—and these are just a few of a very long list of effects that “long-haulers” can experience.
The Frightening “Big Picture” Behind Long COVID
What many Americans have yet to realize is the severity of long COVID. Although it can be difficult to comprehend such statistics this early on, current data suggests that a new reality could be ahead of us—one that medical experts claim might be a “mass disabling event” of historic proportions.
The number of Americans impacted by long COVID should not be taken lightly. For some, the effects of post-COVID condition are manageable; however, 80% of Americans claim that these symptoms are preventing them from carrying out their day-to-day routines, and pose significant challenges in patients’ daily lives. 2-4 million Americans have been forced to reduce work hours or leave the workforce entirely due to the effects of long COVID. (You can imagine what this might mean for our nation’s economy, not to mention our public health, going forward.)
It's crucial to translate all the numbers and data into an applicable real-life event. For example, about 50 million Americans are known to have one or more common inhibiting conditions, such as:
- Lactose intolerance
- Hearing loss
- Chronic pain
Consider a similar number of Americans battling another condition: long COVID. Instead of dealing with severe allergies or another chronic condition, imagine Americans battling difficulty breathing, life-threatening blood clots, shortness of breath, or chronic fatigue that prohibits them from carrying out day-to-day activities, including their work.
The idea of so many people facing such deadly symptoms is overwhelming, but that could very well be our new reality in the coming years if the statistics continue to develop the way they are. Not only will our friends, neighbors, and loved ones face life-threatening conditions, but our nation’s economy will undoubtedly suffer under the burden, too.
Why the Predicted Rise in Disability Claims Hasn’t Happened
Assuming these statistics are accurate, one might expect a “tidal wave of suffering” to already be raining down throughout the country. An evident way to track such an occurrence is through the number of disability claims filed over the past two years.
You may be surprised to learn that rather than witnessing a rise in disability claims, America has actually tracked a slight decline.
Even after one-third of the American population contracted the SARS-CoV-2 virus from 2020 to 2021—many of whom developed chronic symptoms—the number of disability applications did not rise as expected. Instead, the rate dropped by 10% since the start of the pandemic. Why?
According to the NHIS, 9.6% of adults were disabled in December 2019 versus 9.5% of adults two years later in 2022. As you can imagine, this came as a shock to the medical community. Today, there are various explanations for this unexpected dip in disability claims since 2020:
- Social Security field offices closed for 2 years. Office closures stretched from March 2020 to April 2022, limiting the availability of resources for Americans suffering from a disability. Applications were required to be filed online or via phone, potentially limiting the number of incoming applications.
- There was less support available to people applying. Despite the ability to submit disability applications electronically or over the phone, it’s safe to assume that there was very limited support for those in need during the 2 years that in-person offices were shut down, deterring some from applying at all.
- Many long-haulers were likely deterred by a complex and time-consuming bureaucratic system. There's a chance that a good number of those suffering from long COVID gave up after trying and failing to navigate a complicated system, one that requires many people to wait several months or longer to receive the benefits they need. As was the case in most industries, it's likely that the already-complex process was even more backed up during the pandemic due to limited resources and staffing.
- Americans with long COVID struggle to obtain sufficient medical documentation to back their disability claim. Considering the unforeseen onset and consequences of COVID-19, it’s only natural that we’ve yet to implement a formal diagnostic test. It can be difficult for medical professionals to diagnose long COVID as the cause of someone’s health issues or identify other outlying health issues as the source without a definitive structure for testing. Moreover, it can be very challenging for long-haulers to build enough medical documentation to prove that their symptoms have impaired them for at least 1 year.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, however, told a different story through its annual employment survey. The number of Americans who reported facing challenges in their day-to-day activities as a result of physical and cognitive health deficits saw an uptick in mid-2021, indicating what is likely “the first sign of a true upswing,” and experts predict that this rate will continue to rise steadily over time.
Another factor to consider is the disproportionate death toll among already-disabled people as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Regardless of the reason, it’s imperative to understand the serious repercussions of long COVID as we head into 2023 and the years to follow. While long COVID has long been reduced in the media to troublesome symptoms like fatigue, headache, and brain fog, there are more severe “ticking-time-bomb” effects that can prove fatal to long-haulers (especially as their chronic illness progresses), such as:
- Internal tremors
- Heart palpitations
- Severe allergic reactions
- Blood clots
- Kidney failure
- Heart attacks
In fact, CDC data supports that Americans with long COVID face a 50% greater risk of encountering the life-threatening events listed above—a horrifying statistic, to say the least, especially considering that our nation has over 85 million confirmed COVID cases. Moreover, many Americans have contracted the SARS-CoV-2 virus multiple times, making it all the more important to take long COVID statistics seriously—it could quite literally mean the difference between life and death.
Disability Insurance Companies Have Lawyers. Shouldn’t You?
If you are facing a long-term disability claim denial, you should consult an experienced disability lawyer. Our lawyers specialize in disability claims with insurance companies.
- This law firm has expertise in disability insurance claims;
- The firm was built to fight for people who were wrongly denied long-term disability benefits;
- We have fought every major disability insurance company and recovered millions of dollars in disability benefits for clients;
- We have a proven track record of success and have major disability lawsuits that helped make new laws.
Because federal law applies to most disability insurance claims, we do not have to be located in your state to help.
All our lawyers commit every day to helping people get disability benefits from insurance companies. Call to get help with:
- 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.
Call (800) 969-0488 to schedule your free consultation with a disability attorney.