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Does Chronic Fatigue Caused By COVID-19 Qualify For Disability?

Does Chronic Fatigue Caused By COVID-19 Qualify For Disability?

The longer this pandemic lasts, the more we realize how much we don’t know about SARS-CoV-2. At first, we were told it is like the flu. Then we were warned it is more serious than the flu, but only the elderly and infirm are at real risk. As New York was hit hard by the virus, we grew skeptical of this explanation, and rightly so. We now know it is difficult to describe exactly what COVID-19 is or predict who is at risk of becoming seriously ill from it.

Although the COVID-19 death rate is alarming, particularly here in Manhattan, the majority of those who are infected recover within a couple of weeks. But there is a third group of people who are just beginning to tell their story — those who have been dealing with coronavirus symptoms for weeks or months, but are not sick enough to need hospitalization. These so-called long-haulers are struggling to understand what is happening to their bodies, and wondering what sort of resources are available to help them financially until they are able to go back to work, assuming they recover at all. At the Seelig Law Group, we are working hard to help COVID patients in Manhattan and our city’s other boroughs answer their concerns about benefits.

The idea that a virus can impact your life years after an initial infection is not entirely foreign. It is generally understood that if you have Chickenpox as a child, you may get Shingles as an adult. More recent research has shown that, “‘Nearly every single person with Ebola has some long-term chronic complication, from subtle to obviously debilitating,’ says Craig Spencer of the Columbia University Medical Center, who caught the virus himself in 2014. Some of those persistent problems had been noted during early Ebola outbreaks, but weren’t widely appreciated until 28,600 people were infected in West Africa from 2013 to 2016.” It is becoming more and more clear that post-viral impacts are real, even if we are just beginning to understand them.

A large, and increasingly vocal portion of our population suffers from what is known as myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS). ME/CFS is a mysterious illness that some people develop after becoming infected with a viral or bacterial disease. It is characterized by crushing fatigue, muscle pain, cognitive problems and other hard to pen-point symptoms, which may come and go unpredictably. “Up to 25 percent of ME/CFS patients are housebound or bedbound for years. There are no treatments approved by the Food and Drug Administration.” The plight of coronavirus long-haulers is stoking a growing fear that a significant number of people infected with COVID-19 may develop ME/CFS.

The Social Security Administration (SSA) recognizes the seriousness of ME/CFS, and allows people diagnosed with it, or with chronic fatigue, to apply for disability benefits if their symptoms meet the strict definition of disability. Over the past few years, the Seelig Law team has helped numerous ME/CFS sufferers in the New York City area apply for disability benefits. We are ready to help COVID-19 patients and others who are newly diagnosed with ME/CFS or chronic fatigue apply as well. If you or a loved one is suffering, and you are interested in tapping into disability benefits, please contact our office to schedule a free, initial consultation.

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