Long COVID is Now a Disability Under the ADA, Section 504, and Section 1557

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For those who have been diagnosed with COVID-19, most are finding that their symptoms are resolving after a few weeks. However, for a select group who have tested positive for COVID-19, significant symptoms have lingered and not resolved. This condition is known as “long Covid.” The American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation estimates that anywhere from 3 million to 10 million Americans are experiencing “long Covid.” 

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), those suffering from long Covid are experiencing a range of new or ongoing symptoms that are lasting for weeks or months after first becoming infected with Covid-19. Under the American Disabilities Act (ADA), Section 504, and Section 1557, long Covid is determined to be a physical or mental impairment if it substantially limits one or more major life activities according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, www.hhs.gov/civil-rights/for-providers/civil-rights-covid19/guidance-long-covid-disability/index.html

To qualify for Social Security Disability benefits, applicants must demonstrate a disability that substantially limits their ability to work and has lasted, or will last, for at least a year. Typically, the Social Security Administration uses medical assessments or health records to determine whether someone qualifies.

Some people with long Covid symptoms have had success obtaining benefits, even without a positive coronavirus test, if they can demonstrate a substantial downturn in their health and ability to work even though getting approved for benefits can be rather difficult. 

An individualized assessment is necessary to determine whether a person’s long COVID condition or any of its symptoms substantially limits a major life activity. The CDC and health experts are working to better understand long COVID. 

“We are pleased to see that long Covid is being recognized as a disability and sufferers are having success obtaining benefits,” said Marasco & Nesselbush partner, Donna Nesselbush. 

Sources: New York Times article, www.nytimes.com/2021/10/27/us/long-covid-disability-benefits.html; Centers for Disease Control, www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/long-term-effects/index.html; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, www.hhs.gov/civil-rights/for-providers/civil-rights-covid19/guidance-long-covid-disability/index.html