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COVID long-haulers are having a difficult time getting disability insurance

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Posted at 1:24 PM, Mar 02, 2021

Much is still being researched when it comes to the long-term side effects of COVID-19, but survivors are looking for answers now as some are having a hard time getting long-term disability insurance.

“Nobody has answers, and it’s terrifying because nobody understands it,” said Connie Hallet, a COVID-19 survivor who still experiences symptoms of brain fog and fatigue more than four months after ridding her body of the virus. “I have to close my eyes just to think of what I’m trying to say and it’s frustrating.”

Hallet works as a receptionist at an elementary school. She contracted the novel coronavirus around Halloween and was rushed to the ICU, where she stayed for eight days.

She says the ensuing symptoms that have accompanied the recovery have been the hardest part of her struggle.

“I mean, I come home and go to bed at 7 at night because my body is just in such pain,” she said.

Because COVID-19 is so new, disability lawyers say diagnosing long-term symptoms can be difficult since they can be associated with myriad other conditions.

“The tools that we have are not totally adequate for proving disability for these people,” said Scott Riemer, a managing partner at Riemer-Hess Law Firm in New York. “To get disability benefits, you need to prove continuous disability. So yes, maybe we can disability today, but we’re still going to have to prove disability the next month and the month after that.”

He says insurance companies are wary of fraud, and therefore, might be hesitant to pay a claim, adding that symptoms like fatigue and brain fog can be hard to prove so many claims might get denied.

“We see that the insurance companies are very skeptical of them. They see that they can have millions of possible claims and they don’t want to pay those,” said Riemer.

That might not be a comfort to some, but Riemer suggests going to a doctor, several if you have to, and getting written documentation proving your condition so you can make the best case possible.