Successfully applying for Social Security disability is tough. Applying as a long-term Covid patient is even…

Successfully applying for Social Security disability is difficult. Applying as a long-term Covid patient is even…

Residents drop off Covid-19 PCR tests at a testing site operated by the Centers for Disease Control, Federal Emergency Management Agency and eTrueNorth in Washington, DC on January 5, 2022.Eric Lee | Bloomberg | Getty ImagesWhen Christopher Perry fell ill in July 2021, he thought he had just had a bad cold.But after Perry’s adult son found him passed out in his living room, he was taken to hospital and put on life support due to Covid-19.A diagnosis of pulmonary respiratory failure led to long-term health consequences.Today, Perry, 44, of Newport News, Va., can only walk short distances and gets short of breath quickly. His breathing difficulties force him to go to the emergency room at least once a week.More of your health, your moneyHere’s a look at other stories about the complexities and implications of the long Covid:”I’m starting to cry and I can’t catch my breath,” Perry said.Her weight, blood pressure and sugar levels spiked, requiring medication. He is also receiving respiratory care and oxygen.”That’s all they can really do,” Perry said.Perry’s medical condition made it impossible to return to his former full-time job at a NASA steam plant, where he used to climb ladders and maintain boilers.Initially, he was able to obtain short-term and then long-term disability insurance through his employer. Today, after a “very long and tedious process,” Perry relies exclusively on Social Security disability benefits for his income, with monthly checks of about $1,600 a month.“I had no idea Covid would do all of this,” Perry said.To date, the Social Security Administration has reported about 44,000 disability claims that include a mention of Covid-19, though that’s not necessarily the primary reason for those claims. This represents approximately 1% of disability claims received since the agency started to follow these complaints.Still, future claims for disability benefits due to long Covid may increase.Applying for federal benefits can take monthsUp to 30% of Americans who contract Covid have developed long-term symptoms, affecting up to 23 million people, according to at the US Department of Health and Human Services.Long Covid has put an estimated 2-4 million Americans aged 18-65 out of work, according to recent search from the Brookings Institution. Those lost wages can amount to about $170 billion a year, and potentially as high as $230 billion, according to the nonprofit public policy organization’s estimates.To compensate for the loss of income, patients usually purchase short- or long-term disability insurance, if they already have coverage.Those whose condition would prevent them from working for at least 12 months or result in their death can apply for benefits through Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income.Social Security disability benefits are generally available to workers who have earned enough credits through payroll taxes – usually 40 credits, although younger workers may be eligible with less. In 2023, one credit equals $1,640 in wages or self-employment income.Supplemental Security Income, or SSI, is a federal benefit available to people with disabilities who may not qualify for Social Security disability based on their work history.The average wait time for initial Social Security disability decisions has increased during the pandemic, hitting an all-time high of 6.6 months in August, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. More than one million disability claims are pending with state disability determination services.The application process for federal disability benefits is lengthy. This has put some patients with no other source of income available in dire financial straits, according to Andrew Wylam, a lawyer and president of Pandemic Patients, a nonprofit patient advocacy organization dedicated to helping Covid patients get the services they need. they need.”Some people cling to their only hope of getting SSDI benefits, and it’s a six, eight, or 12 month process,” Wylam said.In the meantime, Wylam has watched these patients deplete their savings, cash out their investments and liquidate their assets as they cling to the hope that Social Security disability benefits will eventually be available to help them stay afloat.”It’s very demoralizing and it’s really heartbreaking to see people going through this,” Wylam said.Candidates are also not guaranteed success at the end of this wait. The “grant rate” of disability claims, as measured by the Social Security Administrationaveraged 31% between 2011 and 2020. Meanwhile, denied disability claims averaged 67%.’Invisible’ symptoms add to the difficultyAllsup, which works with people applying for Social Security disability benefits or appealing their claims, sees about 4% to 5% of monthly cases related to Covid or long Covid, according to TJ Geist, senior counsel for the ‘business.The most successful applications are for more serious cases, according to Geist. Often these cases required hospitalizations and ventilators, and led to significant long-term health ramifications, such as organ failure.Allsup, which works with NASA, helped Perry get his claim for Social Security disability benefits approved.“The most difficult continue to be the cases with more invisible long-term symptoms, like fatigue, brain fog, depression,” Geist said.“And unfortunately they have a harder time getting approved,” he added.My advice in these situations would be to make sure your doctor is tracking all of your symptoms, documenting them, and having a full patient history on you.TJ GeistSenior Counsel at AllsupThese cases can be successful, but they take longer, according to Geist. A decision on a first application can take six to eight months. If an appeal is to be made, it may take around six additional months. And then, if there’s a hearing, it can take another year or so.“It could take up to three years for a case to be decided at a hearing,” Geist said.When Perry applied for Social Security disability benefits, he had to fill out numerous paperwork that asked for everything from how far he could walk without losing his breath to whether he was able to cook his own dinner.Approval took about six months and likely would have been impossible without the help of a lawyer, he said.Careful documentation of health records also helps, especially with the “invisible” symptoms associated with long Covid, according to Geist.”My advice in these situations would be to make sure your doctor is tracking all of your symptoms, documenting them, and having a complete patient history,” Geist said.”It can really make or break a Social Security disability case,” he said.”No one sees us”For patients and healthcare providers, a question that arises is how long the illness can last. Social Security disability benefits are for long-term conditions.”A lot of people with long-term Covid want to work, and what they want is work accommodations,” said Alice Burns, associate program director on Medicaid and the uninsured at the Kaiser Family Foundation.Adele Benes, 57, was in ‘excellent health’ when she was exposed to Covid while working at a Chicago area hospital in 2020. Today, 26 months later, she is still suffering from symptoms debilitating effects, including fatigue, brain fog, and cognitive difficulties that led to frequent trips to the emergency room.Adele Benes is still struggling with symptoms after contracting Covid-19 in 2020.Courtesy: Adele BenesTo improve her condition, Benes tried everything from off-label medical treatments to hypnosis. Sometimes she even had trouble moving from her bed to the bathroom and thought the pain and discomfort would kill her.”The feeling was overwhelming,” Benes said. “How can you feel so bad and not die?”Benes applied for Social Security disability benefits in February and is still awaiting a response. But what she wants most is to regain her health and resume a normal life.She cries when she remembers her old job, where she could help sick patients as an ultrasound technologist. “It was joy,” she said.The hardest part may be knowing that there is no cure.”It’s a crazy disease and it’s invisible because we’re all hiding in our homes,” Benes said. “No one sees us and we look normal from the outside.”

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