Can I File a Disability Claim for
Breathing Problems Due To COVID-19?

While it may be some time before we fully understand COVID-19 and its long-term impact, experts have identified certain long-term complications from the virus, including breathing problems.

As COVID-19 is a respiratory disorder, it is no surprise that the lungs can be permanently damaged by the virus. Pneumonia associated with the disease can cause long-standing damage to the alveoli (tiny air sacs) in the lungs. Build-up of scar tissue can then lead to long-term breathing problems, including decreased lung function and decreased exercise capacity. Risks of this complication are highest among those with underlying conditions such as lung disease, hypertension, and obesity.[1]

Such disorders can be problematic for occupations that require mask-wearing, such as dentists and surgeons. Healthcare workers, including dentists, are also often most at risk for contracting COVID-19, due on their physical proximity to others and exposure to diseases[2].

In March of 2018, the CDC reported on a cluster of patients (dentists and dental workers) who were treated at a specialty clinic in Virginia for chronic, progressive lung disease, specifically idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. The CDC said that occupational exposure was a possibility, stating “[d]ental personnel are exposed to infectious agents, chemicals, airborne particulates, ionizing radiation and other potentially hazardous materials. . .[i]nhalational exposures experienced by dentists likely increase their risk for certain work-related respiratory diseases.”[3]

Whether you can file a claim for COVID-19, a resulting complication, or a co-morbid condition depends on the terms of your policy and your unique circumstances. If you have questions about your particular situation, please feel free to contact one of our attorneys directly.

These posts are for informative purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for consultation with and diagnosis by a medical professional. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms described above and have yet to consult with a doctor, do not use this resource to self-diagnose. Please contact your doctor immediately and schedule an appointment to be evaluated for your symptoms.

[1] Mayo Clinic.

[2] Lazaro Gamio, The Workers Who Face the Greatest Coronavirus Risk, The New York Times, March 15, 2020.

[3] CDC reports ‘cluster’ of dental professionals diagnosed with lung disease, ADA News, March 13, 2018.


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