Source: Teresa Harding
It took three months for Teresa Harding to open her termination letter.
“I couldn’t look at it,” Harding, 47, stated. For seven years, she’d labored at a ache administration middle in Lexington, Kentucky. “I enjoyed my co-workers and our patients.
“It was a enjoyable, thrilling job,” she added.
But after a serious bout with Covid in July 2021 that landed her in the hospital, Harding never got better. Unable to work, she was laid off in January.
“I simply sit at residence, watching films that I’ve seen earlier than however do not keep in mind,” Harding said. “I’ve misplaced my objective.”
She and her husband, Roy, also need to pay around an extra $300 a month for treatments for her lingering symptoms of memory loss, severe fatigue and migraines.
“We’re barely making ends meet,” Harding said.
The side effects aren’t just physical
On top of the toll taken on their health, patients with long Covid — a chronic illness with symptoms that persist for months or years after infection — describe a devastating impact on their finances.
Nearly half of people with long Covid reported increased medical expenses, according to a recent survey conducted by the Patient Advocate Foundation. The nonprofit polled 64 people with the condition between 2020 and 2022. More than a third of respondents said their income had gone down as a result of long Covid.
“Long Covid is a first-rate instance of a situation that can create massive bills as a result of it has a number of signs, any of which may require distinct medicines or therapies,” said Caitlin Donovan, a spokesperson for the National Patient Advocate Foundation, the PAF’s sister organization focused on educational resources.
“It additionally immediately threatens sufferers’ skill to work persistently,” Donovan added.
Long Covid threatens financial stability
As many as 23 million Americans are struggling with the chronic condition, and “this quantity will solely proceed to develop as Covid-19 continues to flow into,” according to a recent report by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The government agency warned that the illness may affect people’s financial stability, “resulting in an elevated probability of eviction or homelessness.”
Although the Biden administration is researching long Covid and gathering task forces to address it, patients still describe difficulties navigating the existing safety net and the absence of any specific new protections or aid to which they can turn. Earlier in the public health crisis, the government expanded unemployment benefits and sent direct payments to households.
“Long Covid is as a lot a part of the pandemic as is the acute part, throughout which the federal government went to nice lengths to deal with individuals and save lives,” said Oved Amitay, president of the Long Covid Alliance, an advocacy group. “We ought to have the identical urgency and intentional effort to handle this.”
‘A fairly dramatic impact’ on retirement planning
Courtesy: Sharon Sunders
Nearly three years after Sharon Sunders got Covid, she’s still coughing.
In the spring of 2020, when months had passed since she’d first contracted the virus, Sunders tried to return to her job as a project manager at a marketing agency in Minneapolis.
Almost immediately, she realized she wasn’t up for it.
“There’s no manner I may hold working,” said Sunders, 59. “My reminiscence stinks.
“I’m short on breath when I talk or move around,” she added. “There’s severe exhaustion, too.”
Fortunately, Sunders had incapacity insurance coverage by way of her job and has been capable of dwell off these funds. However, they cowl nearly half of her prior earnings.
“It’s enough to meet our basic needs, but not anything else,” she stated.
Sunders had deliberate to work for not less than 5 extra years to construct up her nest egg. Those plans are actually foiled, and she or he and her husband, Joel, are contemplating starting to withdraw from their retirement financial savings years earlier than they’d hoped.
“It’s had a pretty dramatic effect on my retirement planning,” she stated. “It’s scary.”
She’s additionally been hit with a slew of extra prices associated to her situation.
“They’ve done MRIs of my heart and lungs; I’ve been to cardiologists and pulmonologists,” Sunders stated. “I’ve had more tests than I can remember.”
One Harvard University researcher estimated that lengthy Covid may go away sufferers with an additional $9,000 a 12 months in medical bills.
Patients ‘could not have the sources’ to use for help
Over the final two years, Sunders has additionally been denied twice for Social Security Disability Insurance, the federal profit meant to complement the earnings of these bodily unable to work.
The Biden administration introduced in July 2021 that lengthy Covid may very well be thought of a incapacity underneath the Americans with Disabilities Act, however sufferers and consultants say it is extremely troublesome for these with the situation, which could be tough to diagnose, to get permitted.
“A lot of people with long Covid are being denied Social Security disability insurance,” stated Dr. Monica Verduzco-Gutierrez, professor and chair of the Department of Rehabilitation Medicine on the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. Verduzco-Gutierrez works primarily with Covid sufferers by way of the clinic she established in 2020. She additionally spends plenty of her time on incapacity purposes.
Of the lengthy Covid sufferers she has seen, solely 2 out of fifty who’ve utilized for SSDI have been permitted up to now, she stated.
“They may not have the resources to go through the process,” Verduzco-Gutierrez stated. “They’re having to hire attorneys. Some of them are just giving up.”
Sunders is adamant that she qualifies for the profit, and refuses to surrender. She’s presently concerned in her third attraction of the federal government’s choice to reject her.
But the combat has worn her down much more.
“I usually have about a good hour a day,” she stated. “It’s hard for me to respond to all these requests for medical records.”
To date, the Social Security Administration has flagged about 44,000 incapacity claims nationally that embrace Covid as one of many medical situations, based on company spokeswoman Nicole Tiggemann, making up simply 1% of all incapacity purposes the company has obtained.
To be permitted, “a person must have a medical condition or combination of conditions that prevents the individual from working and is expected to last at least one year or result in death,” Tiggemann stated.
‘There’s a tidal wave of us coming’
Sunders needs the Biden administration would do extra to assist these financially fighting lengthy Covid.
“Our government is abandoning us,” she stated. “But I’m just the beginning; there’s a tidal wave of us coming.”
Harding feels the identical.
“I read in my support groups daily how people are losing their jobs because they’re no longer physically able to perform them, but you can’t live on nothing,” Harding stated. “If the government doesn’t acknowledge what’s going on, you’re going to have tons of people without homes, going hungry.”
The White House didn’t reply to requests for remark.
When her paychecks stopped coming in, Harding needed to money out her 401(ok) retirement financial savings. She had about $15,000 within the account.
In the next months, she and her husband have additionally racked up greater than $8,000 in debt on their bank card.
“We put food, gas, medication and hospital bills on it to make sure we’re able to pay for our car and home,” she stated.
Harding utilized for SSDI in August, however hasn’t heard again but. The wait is annoying. And an individual within the Social Security workplace had been discouraging.
“They said that it’s usually a two- to four-year battle to get it,” she stated.
— Jessica Dickler contributed reporting.