Over the last two years, the COVID-19 virus has caused public health and economic disruptions all around the world. According to data provided by the Arkansas Department of Public Health, there have been more than 800,000 cases of COVID-19 confirmed in the state as of February of 2022.
Even as the country continues to remove restrictions, COVID-19 continues to have an effect on the Social Security disability claims process. In this article, our Rogers Social Security disability attorney explains the key things to know about COVID-19’s impact on SSDI and SSI claims.
Four Things to Know About COVID-19 and Social Security Disability Claims (2022)
1. Applications are Open: You Can File for Social Security Disability Benefits
As a starting point, it is important to clarify that the Social Security Administration (SSA) is accepting and reviewing new disability applications. Indeed, though there have been some delays for certain issues, the agency never stopped sending out benefits for new and existing files. You may be eligible for Social Security disability compensation through:
- Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI): A federal disability program funded through payroll tax contributions, SSDI provides disability benefits to medically-disabled individuals who have earned enough work credits to be insured. If you have any specific questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact our Rogers, AR SSDI attorney for help.
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI): Some people do not have a long enough work record based on their age to qualify for SSDI benefits. The SSI program is a federal disability alternative. It is a strictly means-tested disability program that provides benefits to medically-disabled individuals who have very limited income and assets. To get more information about SSI claims, contact our Rogers, AR Social Security disability lawyers today.
2. Local Social Security Offices Remain Closed (At Least Until April 2022, Maybe Beyond)
The pandemic is still causing some disruptions to the Social Security disability claims process. In fact, the local SSA officers around the country remained closed. As recently reported by The Washington Post, the Social Security field offices in Arkansas and nationwide will remain closed until at least mid-April of 2022. At that point, it is possible that they will reopen in a full or limited capacity. However, this is still a fast-changing public health environment. A final decision has not been made and the delay of reopening could last longer.
3. You Can Apply for SSDI or SSI Benefits for a COVID-19 Related Disability
If you have a COVID-19 related illness or medical impairment, you may be considering filing for Social Security disability benefits. As noted by CNBC, this is most often an issue for COVID-19 “long-haulers”—those being the people who have chronic debilitating systems after dealing with a coronavirus infection.
You have the right to file for disability benefits for a COVID-19 condition. That being said, there is no special provision or process for COVID-19 sufferers. COVID-19 is not a listed condition. To qualify for benefits on the basis of a COVID-19 illness or chronic medical impairment, you will have to prove the severity of your condition based on the specific symptoms. Medical records matter.
4. Inflation is High and SSDI/SSI Benefits are Rising
The COVID-19 pandemic has been cited as at least a partial factor in causing a steep rise in inflation. In early February the Associated Press (AP) reported that inflation hit a stunning 40-year high. A steep increase in prices poses a significant financial burden for many families—especially those receiving a fixed income.
There is some good news: SSDI and SSI benefits are adjusted for inflation. Each year the SSA applies a cost of living adjustment (COLA) to Social Security benefits. The adjustment took effect in January. All SSDI and SSI recipients received a 5.9 percent increase in their monthly benefits. If you have any questions about the Social Security cost of living adjustment for 2022, we can help.
Schedule a Free, Confidential Consultation With a Rogers, AR SSDI Attorney
At Gallo Cazort & Co. Law Firm, our Arkansas Social Security disability lawyers are proud to fight for the rights of people who need help the most. If you have any questions about COVID-19 and Social Security disability claims or Social Security disability law in general, we are here to help. Give us a call or send us a message for a no-cost, no-commitment case evaluation. With a legal office in Rogers, we provide SSDI and SSI representation throughout Northwest Arkansas, including in Benton County, Madison County, Washington County, Carroll County, and Newton County.