Torrey: COVID Lengthy-Haulers and Their Incapacity Treatment| Staff Compensation Information

By David B. Torrey

Wednesday, March 17, 2021 | 216 | 0 | min read

Many in the labor compensation insurance industry have tried to predict what cost COVID-19 will ultimately cost.

David B. Torrey

One train of thought is that most claims will be short-lived, with those found eligible may only last for weeks with minimal medical costs. Other claims analyzed in such projections are, of course, more costly events. These are the ones who show death.

However, insurance industry commentators are now realizing another potentially expensive type of compensation: COVID cases that are becoming chronic. The term for the condition is “long COVID”. The victims have since been referred to as long-distance drivers.

In a New Republic article that I highly recommend, the author interviews a number of long-term COVID patients to determine their typical symptoms to determine how to treat them in the medical field and how to survive for our purposes economic point of view.

All of this is of interest to the labor compensation professional as chronic cases can be the most challenging to the system. And in particular, the author has long compared COVID with a long-established disease that we encounter in employee compensation, “Chronic Fatigue Syndrome” (CFS).

Here the author is referring to CFS in its full modern articulation or to myalgic encephalomyelitis / chronic fatigue syndrome or ME / CFS. ME / CFS is like another sometimes chronic disease, Lyme disease, that occurs with compensation for employees.

Both CE / CFS and chronic Lyme disease are supposed to be diagnoses without “clear markers”. In this article the author assigns a long COVID to this group of diseases: “Those who live with ME / CFS know the consequences of living in a medical no man’s land. Like long COVID, ME / CFS usually has no clear biological markers. There are no treatments on the label. Patients are often undiagnosed, misdiagnosed or discharged entirely by doctors. ”

What are the symptoms of a long COVID? The author identifies them as “headache, nerve pain, cognitive dysfunction, hair loss, constipation and extreme weight loss”. However, one key symptom is indeed like CFS: the same persistent fatigue that primarily affected the COVID-19 victim.

The author reports that researchers have long known that people with a virus do not all have the same experience of illness. Some actually develop a chronic condition. The author notes, “Research into post-viral disease suggests that half or more of those who survive the virus can experience one or more symptoms for months or years. Regardless of the final number, the pandemic death rate continues to be dwarfed by the long-haul population. “

A key issue for the chronically ill population is “how to support and care for a new cohort of chronically ill Americans, possibly in the millions.”

The remedy for workers’ compensation is not mentioned in the article, and none of the respondents claim they contracted the virus through workplace exposure. As would be expected, social security disability is identified as the obvious remedy for the real long distance drivers.

“Most will likely turn to their deserved social security benefits for the disabled,” says the author. But is that really going to happen? The author reports that as of 2017, SSA reported that only about 13,000 people received this main benefit for a similar diagnosis of ME / CFS.

Of course, the author points out that SSD is an imperfect resource for most, given that both the benefits and the Medicare card that goes with it have a wait. On this point, social security expert Nancy Altman told the author, “The increasing number of long-distance drivers makes eliminating both waiting times even more important.”

She adds, “In the meantime, some medically eligible people could end up with SSI [supplemental security income] and Medicaid, but you practically don’t have to have any income for that. ”

David B. Torrey is an Associate Professor of Law at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law and an Employee Compensation Judge for the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry. This entry was republished with permission from the Blog of Professors for Employee Compensation Law.

Comments are closed.