When Does the ADA Qualify COVID-19 a Disability?

Employment Law January 20th, 2022
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COVID 19 and disability law as outlined by the ADA helps define who is disabled by COVID 19 and who is not. The keyword here is “Helps.” However, because COVID 19 affects people differently – some never recover, and others may not even know they have the disease – the ADA outlines are unclear.

Some fundamental aspects are outlined, beginning with the fact that every disability is about an individual, not a group. Here is more about how disability under COVID 19 occurs.


1. “Long COVID.”


“Long COVID” is one of the many terms referring to – new, ongoing, or returning health problems following a COVID 19 infection that last for four-plus weeks. That definition and time are important as they define when a potential disability related to COVID 19 occurs.


2. The ADA uses a three-part definition to determine if an individual meets the guidelines for a COVID disability. Those are:


  • There is a physical disability.
  • There is a record of a disability – The EEOC uses past cancer diagnosis in remission.
  • Regarded as – the individual is regarded as being disabled.

3. When an Actual Disability occurs


The EEOC states that when a particular medical condition or its symptoms presents a physical or mental impairment that sustainably limits a significant life activity. [1] Further, the EEOC clarifies that that definition applies to a case-by-case situation and is never a blanket statement. Having COVID 19 is not by itself an actual disability. Examples of a substantially limiting of a significant life activity include:

  • Ongoing intermittent headaches that occur multiple times per day
  • Continued dizziness
  • Cognitive issues, such as “brain fog” that persists or causes the individual to be forgetful
  • Breathing difficulties that may require oxygen
  • Cardiac issues resulting from the COVID infection or treatment include chest pain, palpitations, or shortness of breath.


4.An individual Regarded as being disabled


A person with COVID or who their employer believes has COVID 19 can be classified as disabled if that perception – right or wrong – causes them to lose their job and be unhirable due to an impairment.

How the ADA Addresses COVID 19 and Disability

The first thing to understand is that every case is unique and that similar cases may qualify as a disability while others do not.

Every case starts with an evaluation and gathering of data or documents.

The process is not straightforward and can be excessively complex. There are gray areas in almost every case.

If you believe you are disabled due to a COVID 19 infection and reside in California, call Davtyan Law Firm  at (818) 275-5799 at discuss the details of your condition. We are here to help you determine the best course of action for your unique situation.

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