For some, it can make it impossible to work, prompting them to ask: Am I eligible for Social Security disability benefits?

“We certainly have seen an increase of claims because of Covid-related issues, including long haulers,” said T.J. Geist, principal advocate at Allsup, a company that represents Social Security disability claimants.

What Covid-19 Long Haulers Should Know About Claiming Social Security Disability Benefits

Know About Claiming Social Security Disability Benefits

The reason: Social Security disability is designed for people who suffer mental or physical conditions that have lasted or are expected to last at least 12 months.

“Many of those who have long haul symptoms haven’t met that duration requirement quite yet,” Geist said.

“Apply as early as possible, because it is a long process,” Geist said. “Those aren’t going to be awarded as quickly, because you need to see those over a period of time,” Geist said. “You need a longitudinal history there, and those can be more difficult to document.”

A 2020 Government Accountability Office report found that about 1.3% of applicants filed for bankruptcy while waiting on their appeals, and 1.2% died before receiving a final decision.

“Many — particularly those without legal representation — end up wrongfully denied on multiple occasions before finally being approved with a lawyer’s help,” said Rebecca Vallas, senior fellow that the Century Foundation. “Untold numbers spend what savings they have to try to stay afloat while waiting for an appeal to be heard — and countless more lose their homes in the process.”

“If an individual is not working and earning income, then they’re allowed to apply now,” Geist said. “There’s not a set period of time where they have to wait to apply.” So you should be applying now if you fit the category. It is highly important to pay attention to all these kinds of stuff when you are in need.

Challenges for COVID-19 Freighters

The “any occupation standard” is only one of many possible stumbling blocks that long-haul truckers could face when filing for benefits, Wagner said. The long-term implications of COVID-19 are unknown because the virus is so recently discovered.

She noted that the condition’s prognosis is uncertain and that its symptoms may recur. She remarked, “There is no evidence to establish the likely length of these symptoms.” It’s unclear how long each bad symptom would endure, or if they might wear off at different rates if experienced alone or in different combinations.

Furthermore, several of the severe symptoms experienced by COVID-19 long-haulers are self-reported, including brain fog, weariness, dizziness, and headaches. Long-term disability insurers are dubious of self-reported symptoms, as indicated by how they handle CFS cases, Wagner said.

Conclusion

She explained that even if a carrier believes a claimant’s account of their symptoms, the claimant still has the burden of proof that their impairment prevents them from performing one or more of the essential job duties.

“If the claimant doesn’t have access to their medical records, they may not be able to get strong testimony from their treating physician. It’s possible that the treating physician won’t be able to provide an accurate diagnosis for the claimant, “That’s interesting, Wagner.