Lung x-ray pneumonia

If the damage is extensive enough, COVID-19 can lead to long-term disability claims. While researchers are still learning about the nature of the virus, it has been found to be capable of causing significant damage to the lungs and other organs.

How the Virus Can Cause Permanent Damage to the Lungs

According to more recent studies from China, the virus’s country of origin, revealed that COVID-19 is often responsible for causing extensive long-term damage to victims’ lungs. Specifically, the Hong Kong Hospital Authority found that as many as 25 percent of those who recovered fully sustained damaged lung function, with patients experiencing a 20- to 30-percent decrease in lung capacity.

Although the virus hasn’t been around long enough to undergo extensive studies into the long-term effects, the virus’s close relative SARS has been known to cause long-lasting lung damage that took as long as 15 years to heal.

COVID-19’s Effects Beyond the Lungs

Many healthcare professionals and researchers are placing emphasis on the fact that this virus primarily affects the lungs, but it’s also believed to cause damage to other organs including the heart, liver, kidneys, and brain. The reason why it attacks these organs isn’t entirely understood at this time, but it could result from a number of factors, including decreased oxygen levels restricting the flow of air to vital organs, and the inflammation that can place higher stress on the body. These circumstances could eventually lead to long-term disability.

Doctors have also found that many COVID-19 patients have developed heart conditions, with one study concluding that a minimum of one in five survivors sustained heart damage as a direct result of the infection. People with pre-existing heart issues are more likely to develop these kinds of problems as a result of the virus.

Another potential issue is post-intensive care syndrome (PICS), which many coronavirus survivors have. PICS can result from several factors, one of which could include being placed in ICU and on a ventilator due to COVID-19. Some of the symptoms of PICS may include:

  • Cognitive difficulties such as brain fog and memory problems
  • Problems with speech and communication
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Weakness and fatigue


Because of the many long-term issues that COVID-19 may cause, many survivors may be eligible for long-term social security disability benefits. Based on the short-term effects, many survivors will already be eligible to receive short-term benefits. The most important step to take to qualify for SSDI after a COVID-19 infection is to gather sufficient evidence to support a potential case.