man not feeling well

When Is Covid Considered a Disability? 

There’s no denying that COVID has completely changed our lives, including in the workplace. Besides the social distancing rules and work-from-home situations that many companies are implementing when able, COVID can also affect job performance when the illness’s lingering effects start to impair a person mentally or physically.

Hopefully if you’ve had COVID-19, the symptoms were mild and you completely recovered after a couple weeks. In some cases, people can experience symptoms that last months, years, or potentially for the rest of their lives. These cases are known as “long COVID”.

What is Long COVID?

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines long COVID as new and ongoing symptoms that continue to occur after someone has been infected with the virus. The symptoms typically worsen with mental or physical activity, making it difficult to focus on tasks, including work.

What are Some of the Symptoms?

After an infection of COVID, you might experience extreme tiredness or fatigue, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, dizziness, headaches, chest pain, persistent coughing, as well as muscle and joint pain. All of these physical symptoms can interfere with your ability to properly do your job. 

In addition, long COVID can lead to mental issues such as depression and anxiety, difficulty thinking and concentrating, neurological damage, and other lingering emotional and mental conditions, as well as long-term damage to the lungs, heart, kidneys, skin, and brain, or any other organs of the body. 

Can long COVID be Considered a Disability?

A disability is any condition of the body or mind that makes it more difficult for a person to perform certain activities. When long COVID causes impairments of the body and mind and a person has a hard time performing such daily activities as working, it is considered a disability.

Although long COVID is often considered a disability, in some cases it doesn’t interfere with daily activities and therefore doesn’t fall under the category of disability. If you’re experiencing any lasting symptoms, contact an employee attorney San Francisco to see if you qualify for disability benefits.   

What Rights Do People With Long COVID Have?

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Section 504, and Section 1557, people with long COVID symptoms that qualify as a disability are entitled to the same rights and protections from discrimination that any other disabled person is entitled to. 

Businesses and governments will sometimes be required to make changes to accommodate people with long COVID limitations, so that those living with the disability are able to fully and equally participate in all aspects of civic and commercial life.

Job Accommodations

Places of employment can make changes or adjustments to a job or work environment that makes it possible for an individual suffering from long COVID to perform their job duties. The U.S. Department of Labor provides more information on requesting and negotiating accommodations.

If you believe you have a disability and are unable to work or need special considerations at your place of employment due to long COVID, it is important to know how to connect to services and support that is available to help you with your case.