While the coronavirus has not completely disappeared, a growing vaccination rate has led doctors and other medical experts to start looking at the aftereffects of the pandemic. Of particular concern is the phenomenon known as “long COVID,” which afflicts a startling number of victims of the virus. For disability advocates, this population of COVID-19 sufferers may prove to be the longest lasting legacy of the coronavirus pandemic, potentially leading to years or decades of care for affected individuals.
What is Long COVID?
“Long COVID” is the term some doctors have given to a subset of people who became infected with the coronavirus, who continue to experience COVID symptoms long after the infection has subsided. The symptoms are typically less intense than the original infection, but are persistent, with some cases recorded as lasting for a year or longer. Strangely, however, some people who suffer from long COVID either originally had mild symptoms or were completely asymptomatic when they were infected.
What Causes Long COVID?
There is no single identified cause for long COVID, although there are numerous theories about why the symptoms manifest in some people but not others. Some experts theorize that the symptoms may be caused by lingering protein molecules from the virus, which can stay in a person’s system long after the disease has been eradicated. Others suggest that it may be rooted in an autoimmune response, with the body trying to attack a virus that is no longer there. Others still suggest that it may not be a single condition, but a variety of interconnected ones all caused by the coronavirus infection.
Who is Most at Risk for Long COVID?
It is estimated that somewhere between 10 and 30 percent of all COVID sufferers will develop symptoms of long COVID. While there is no single defining factor, the symptoms of long COVID are more common in middle-aged people, which may be a result of higher survival rates compared to younger or older victims. In addition, while men are more likely to die from the coronavirus, women are more likely to survive and experience chronic symptoms.
What Does This Mean for People With Disabilities?
The existence of long COVID indicates there may be a surge in the number of people seeking disability assistance due to previous coronavirus infection. As their symptoms drag on for months or years, it becomes increasingly clear that the cost of treating COVID patients will long outlast the pandemic itself. And it is increasingly likely that disability benefits programs (such as SSDI or SSI) will soon be seeing a surge of long COVID victims, looking for help with their conditions.
If you or a loved one need assistance applying for SSDI or SSI benefits, it is important that you seek the guidance of an experienced Social Security Disability benefits lawyer. The lawyers at Sullivan & Kehoe, LLP have over 50 years of combined experience between its attorneys and are available to you or your loved one in obtaining Social Security Disability or Supplemental Security Income benefits. To schedule a consultation with our New York Social Security Disability benefits lawyers, call (631) 823-7155.