Resources & Guidance on Long COVID as a Disability

Guidance on “Long COVID” as a Disability

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) have released new guidance on “Long COVID” as a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Below is an excerpt of the guidance put out by HHS and the U.S. Department of Justice, “Guidance on “Long COVID” as a Disability Under the ADA, Section 504, and Section 1557.”

Although many people with COVID-19 get better within weeks, some people continue to experience symptoms that can last months after first being infected, or may have new or recurring symptoms at a later time. This can happen to anyone who has had COVID 19, even if the initial illness was mild. People with this condition are sometimes called “long-haulers.” This condition is known as “long COVID.” In light of the rise of long COVID as a persistent and significant health issue, the Office for Civil Rights of the HHS and the Civil Rights Division of the DOJ have joined together to provide guidance on long COVID.

This guidance explains that long COVID can be a disability under the ADA which protects people with disabilities from discrimination. This guidance also provides resources for additional information and best practices.

What is long COVID and what are its symptoms?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), people with long COVID have a range of new or ongoing symptoms that can last weeks or months after they are infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 and that can worsen with physical or mental activity. Examples of common symptoms of long COVID include:

  • Tiredness or fatigue
  • Difficulty thinking or concentrating (sometimes called “brain fog”)
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Headache
  • Dizziness on standing
  • Fast-beating or pounding heart (known as heart palpitations)
  • Chest pain
  • Cough
  • Joint or muscle pain
  • Depression or anxiety
  • Fever
  • Loss of taste or smell

This list is not exhaustive. Some people also experience damage to multiple organs including the heart, lungs, kidneys, skin, and brain.

Can long COVID be a disability under the ADA, Section 504, and Section 1557?

Yes, long COVID can be a disability under the ADA, Section 504, and Section 1557 if it substantially limits one or more major life activities. A person with long COVID has a disability if the person’s condition or any of its symptoms is a “physical or mental” impairment that “substantially limits” one or more major life activities.

Please refer to the full document, Guidance on “Long COVID” as a Disability Under the ADA, Section 504, and Section 1557, for more details on long COVID.

Resources for Long COVID

Disability Information and Assistance Line (DIAL)

  • DIAL can provide information about services you may be eligible for and connect you to them. DIAL also can help you get vaccinated if long COVID is making it difficult for you to find vaccine sites, make or keep appointments, or find the information you need to make decisions. Learn more about DIAL.
  • To use DIAL, call 888-677-1199 Monday-Friday from 7a.m. to 6p.m. (Mountain) or email
  • Older adults also can visit the Eldercare Locator online or call 800-677-1116 to chat live or browse resources
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