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As a COVID-19 ‘long-hauler,’ do I qualify for SSD benefits?

Most days, COVID-19 “long-haulers” struggle to do everyday activities. In some cases, they no longer have the strength or ability to work. The hindrances they face are many and frustrate long-haulers, who often continue to suffer from illnesses weeks and months after contracting the virus.

The variety of ailments do not seem to go away as the lengthy list includes muscle aches, fatigue, brain fog, shortness of breath, depression, chest pain and rapid heart rate. In the pre-COVID 19 days, someone with similar symptoms may seek long-term disability benefits such as those offered by the Social Security Administration (SSA). However, the current times are uncharted territory as many long-haulers wonder whether they qualify for Social Security disability benefits.

Awaiting congressional action

For months, long-haulers, their families and health care advocates have lobbied Washington lawmakers to make changes that would steer this group on a path toward securing SSD benefits. Has the COVID-19 pandemic awakened federal lawmakers into making such changes? At least one example shows that Congress is listening.

A bill was introduced last year on Capitol Hill to eliminate the required five-month waiting period for people approved of getting SSD benefits. Although the bill did not make it to the voting stage, one of its sponsors – Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pennsylvania) promises to reintroduce the bill.

That waiting period has harmed so many SSD applicants as thousands of them have either filed for bankruptcy or died before the government made a decision on their cases. If that waiting period gets waived, expressions of relief may arise from so many families.

Some medical officials estimated that 20 to 30% of COVID-19 patients suffer from long-term effects. This is a significant number. In the meantime, long-haulers recuperate as best as they can and wait for government action that would help them get those much-needed SSD benefits.

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