Coronavirus Covid-19 long term illness short and long-term disability insurance claims

The Covid-19 pandemic is causing many Americans to file short and long-term disability claims with their disability insurance company. As the number of people with Covid 19 increases, so will the need for insurance companies to process disability claims. The attorneys at the disability law firm Frankel & Newfield expect there to be a large number of claims from the coronavirus and a equally large pushback from the insurance companies.

Disability insurance claims due to Covid-19 early in the pandemic might have been treated with some sympathy as the coronavirus pandemic was still new, but we are now seeing that short term disability benefits and long-term disability benefits are being treated like any other disability claim.

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In other words, the insurance company that you trusted to care for you if you needed to file an insurance claim may be adjusting to the coronavirus pandemic, and not in a way that will help you.

You are invited to contact the disability law firm of Frankel & Newfield at 877-583-2524. The call is free, there is no obligation, and the information you'll receive will be helpful for your claim. If you are unable to work as a result of Covid-19 and your claim has been denied or the insurance company is asking for more information about your condition, we believe it is worth your time to make the call.

How Has Coronavirus Impacted Your Ability to Work?

Increasingly, evidence suggests that many COVID-19 coronavirus patients experience long-term symptoms that impede their ability to work and live normally. At first, it was thought that the long-term effects of Covid were mainly respiratory illnesses or cardiac defects resulting from severe cases of the Covid-19 coronavirus. But as the months have passed, it is becoming clear that the long-term impact of the coronavirus pandemic will lead to many short- and long-term disability claims.

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A federal government workshop dedicated to long-term Covid 19 illness determined that the condition needs to be given a name and be taken seriously by doctors. The number of people afflicted is expected to become a significant public health issue. Experts estimate that tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of Americans will become disabled. For disability insurance companies, this is an overwhelming number that will cut into the insurance companies profits in a big way.

The symptoms include cognitive and psychological problems in addition to respiratory and cardiac issues. Many of the symptoms are similar to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, or Fibromyalgia: fatigue, joint pain, vision changes, chest pain, brain fog and depression.

Patients who were not hospitalized and did not have severe cases are just as likely to have these long-term issues as those who were hospitalized.

Covid 19 is still relatively new, so the insurance companies are keeping a close eye on claims.

How Disability Lawyers Expect the Insurance Companies to Respond to Claims

Disability attorneys Frankel & Newfield have already spoken to many people who have filed short-term and long-term disability claims after having Covid-19 and had their claims denied. We recommend contacting our office to find out how having a disability insurance attorney can help you go through the process of filing a claim or fighting a denial.

Here are the tactics we are already seeing from the disability insurance companies:

If you are about to file a short term or long-term disability claim for a Covid-19 condition, you will need to establish when you became ill. The insurance company will want to know what kind of medical care you sought, when you went to see a doctor or went to an urgent care clinic. The disability insurance company will also want to know if you went to the hospital, and how you were taken to the hospital: did a family member bring you, or were you taken by ambulance to the hospital.

Obtaining medical records when your hospital or doctor's office is dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic may become a nightmare. Getting medical records is often a sticking point with long-term disability benefits, but getting medical records when healthcare systems are overwhelmed by Covid 19 patients is even more difficult. It's just not a priority when critical resources are in short supply and lives are at risk.

If you succeed in obtaining medical records, be aware that your disability claims success hinges on not just how sick you are, but how you are unable to perform the tasks and duties of your occupation as a result of your having Covid-19. Doctor's notes that do not include this information can put disability claims due to Covid-19 at risk.

Follow up care to a disability created by having Covid-19 is necessary for your disability claim to be considered by the insurance company. If your treating physician is not a pulmonologist, infectious disease specialist or cardiologist, your disability may be challenged on the basis that you are not pursuing the best possible care.

Experienced Attorneys To Help You File Your Disability Claim

Frankel & Newfield is concerned that the vast numbers of people who are filing short and long-term disability claims will experience a larger set of obstacles to receive disability benefits. The sheer volume of claims is likely to overwhelm the ability of the disability insurance company’s ability to process them.

One of the many frustrations we hear from claimants in any disability case is that they continued to send records and medical reports, only to be told that no one in the claims office received the materials. Or a rotating cast of claims adjusters keeps changing and the person they are speaking to is the right one this week, but they can't be reached the following week.

Disability insurance policies that are part of your employee benefits are governed by a strict set of federal guidelines known as ERISA. One of the challenges of ERISA is that disability claims are subject to time limitations. You may receive a letter stating that your short term disability claim has been denied and that you have only 90 or 180 days to respond. That may seem like a long period of time, but in reality, your insurance claim can be shut down permanently if you are not able to start and finish your battle with the insurance company in that timeframe.

If you are suffering the impact of Covid-19, so much so that you are not able to work, it's going to be a struggle to go up against a large insurance company with your insurance claim.

In other words, if you thought that a disability claim was going to be tough before Covid-19, expect disability claims to be much harder now. In addition to the volume of claims overwhelming the disability claims system, remember that the disability insurance companies themselves have had to shift employees to working from home.

Large companies theoretically have the resources to accomplish this, but there is no way that the workflow of such a big company can successfully shift and continue at the same performance levels.

Working with a disability insurance law firm that has experience navigating the claims process, drawing on years of experience and knowledge of disability insurance law, the insurance companies’ processes is an option to seriously consider.

Covid-19 Can Cause Long Term Lung Injury

Covid 19 patients who have recovered following a severe case requiring care in an ICU (Intensive Care Unit) and a ventilator are likely to suffer lung damage. Many people who experience severe respiratory illness go on to develop ARDS -- Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome – a life-threatening injury to the lungs where fluid collects in the air sacs (alveoli) in the lungs.

The typical progression for Covid-19 begins with a dry cough, severe headache or sore throat. The virus produces thousands of copies of itself, which feature the now-familiar spiky round shape. Those spikes are surface proteins that attach to receptors on healthy cells throughout the body. Once the viral proteins gain access to the cells, they kill the healthy cells.

Part of the ferocity of Covid-19 in the lungs is that is travels deeper into the lower airways, where there are more receptor cells than in the upper respiratory tract, which is why pneumonia occurs frequently. When lungs become inflamed, breathing becomes difficult and the body is not able to get enough oxygen to feed the vital systems that keep us alive.

Frankel & Newfield Law Firm Has Years of Experience in Long Term Disability Claims

These are challenging times for any type of disability claim, particularly those resulting from Covid-19. To speak with one of our experienced disability partners, please call our office at 877-583-2524.


Frankel & Newfield anticipates that this will be an area where the disability insurance claims managers will go head-to-head with claimants as soon as the flood of disability insurance claims reaches a certain peak. We have frequently seen the disability claims company make the argument that a dentist had filed a disability claim because their practice was performing poorly, and not that their income was decreasing because they were too ill to practice. In this case, the practice profits will have vanished when the office was closed, and will be severely impacted with the additional costs of keeping the office safe and the decrease in patient numbers.

Why Are Dentists At Risk for COVID-19?

It is now widely understood that COVID-19 spreads through the air. Aerosol particles, large and small, are exhaled through a person’s breath while speaking, and more so while singing or speaking loudly. The virus is also in the saliva and mucus in the mouth and throat. Dental offices use tools that cause oral liquids to be sprayed, like ultrasonic scalers, rotary abrasions, air polishers. The aerosolized cloud wasn’t a big deal in the past. Today, it’s a deadly threat. In fact, NY Times article said "most at risk" occupation..

How Can Nurses with Covid Protect Their Disability Claims?

Anyone suffering from COVID-19, especially those who are hospitalized and fighting for their life, is in no position to fight a disability insurance company. The family members are likely the ones who are trying to keep the children’s lives in some kind of normal state, as hard as that is in these rough times. An experienced disability insurance attorney should be consulted to advise the individual or the family about what needs to happen to protect their disability benefits coverage. Anyone with questions is invited to call Frankel & Newfield at 877-583-2524 and learn about how the firm can help.

I’m immunosuppressed. Will my disability insurance claim be denied?

Unfortunately, being immunosuppressed brings a host of legal issues to the disability claim. There have been court cases stating that there is no special protection needed for a person in the workplace, but the coronavirus pandemic makes going to work a potentially deadly decision.

The employer may be requested or even required by state or federal law to create a safe workplace for the immunosuppressed worker, but this may not be possible to accomplish. Consider the occupational therapist who works with elderly patients in a skilled nursing care facility. In the past, a medical mask and gloves may have been enough to protect the worker from diseases like MRSA, pneumonia and Clostridium difficile, referred to as C. diff, a bacteria that causes severe gastrointestinal illness. While these diseases can be fatal, they are nowhere near as deadly as COVID-19. We urge anyone who is immunosuppressed and considering a disability claim to contact our office for a free consultation. Every situation is different, and the question about coverage will depend upon the provisions in your disability policy.

Justin C Frankel

Written By:

Justin C. Frankel

Disability Insurance Attorney