After nearly two years of dealing with the COVID 19 pandemic, it seems that there may be a light at the end of the tunnel thanks to the availability of vaccines – even with the recent emergence of the more resistant omicron variant. For many people, however, that joy has been tempered by the hard realities of life dealing with Long COVID 19.
According to Thomas Gut, D.O., the director of the Post-COVID Recovery Center in NY, “data suggest that anywhere from 30 to 75 percent of patients will experience long COVID 19 symptoms that can persist anywhere from one month to a year.”
Long COVID 19 symptomsinclude fatigue, heart palpitations, chest pain, shortness of breath, “brain fog”, sleep disorders, fevers, gastrointestinal symptoms, anxiety, and depression. They can persist for a long time and can range from mild to incapacitating. In some cases, new symptoms will show up long after a person has been infected or get worse over time.
For some people like clinical nurse Davida Wynn, 38, long COVID 19 has had a profound impact on her life and mental health. Unable to work due to her health issues, she had to use her short term disability benefits and personal days before her long term disability benefits kicked in. She is still waiting for her Long Term Disability benefits to be approved more than six months after they should have started. She may have to make the difficult decision of selling her house to survive financially once her savings and retirement funds have been depleted.
Although long COVID 19 (post-acute sequelae SARS-CoV-2 infection, or PASC) has affected those who were hospitalized due to severe COVID 19 symptoms, what’s most troubling is the impact it has had upon those whose initial COVID 19 symptoms were mild. This can result in problems for those COVID 19 “long haulers” who are unable to return to work due to chronic health issues.
Dr. James Jackson, psychologist and director of long-term outcomes at the ICU Recovery Center at Vanderbilt remarks, “What we’ve noticed is that when people have not had very severe disease, yet they have really adverse outcomes, they don’t get that outpouring of support. That’s a real problem for the mild COVID 19 cases. Many people don’t have much empathy for their plight and are very dismissive of their difficulties.”
According to a report published by The Ontario COVID 19 Science Advisory Table, the symptoms of long COVID 19 can affect about 10% of those infected and can last for some time. Fahad Razak, the lead author of the report, noted that those dealing with long COVID 19 can cause a host of other health issues “because a lot of the disabilities are not just about medical care, it's about the fact that individuals can't go back to work, it's that they need a supportive home, it's difficulty with work and family life.”
University of Calgary post-doctoral researcher and exercise physiologist Rosie Twomey hopes to raise awareness about how difficult it has been for those struggling with long COVID 19, particularly when they try to resume a “normal” life again. "It can be life-altering, and it's not something that should be dismissed,” says Twomey. Calgary psychiatrist Dr. Eleanor Stein has also noted how debilitating the effects of long COVID 19 have been on the patients she’s seen in her private practice. "They're off work. They've had to quit all of their activities,” says Stein. “They're just really trying to survive.”
Disability Benefits and Long COVID
For those who have applied for short-term or long term disability benefits due to long COVID 19, the process can be frustrating and scary. Long COVID 19 symptoms can be very subjective, so not all doctors will recognize them. Even if people can prove their disability, their LTD disability claims may not be heard by the insurance company for many months.
David Share, President and Managing Director of Share Lawyers addresses the concerns that many have regarding proof of their LTD disability claims being denied by insurance companies due to long COVID 19, saying, “It’s not so much that you have to prove, through a definitive diagnosis, that you had COVID 19. What’s important is that the symptoms you’re suffering now and the medical support you’ve been given validate your claim of suffering from long COVID 19 symptoms, or a disabling medical condition.”
If you or someone you love is dealing with long COVID 19 symptoms and is unable to work, contact us today for a free consultation. Our job is to take on insurance companies and fight long term disability claim denials, and we’ve been doing it successfully for over 35 years. Your physician may be the best resource in proving the extent of your illness, but having a disability lawyer on your side can help ensure that you have the financial support that you need to get better.