The Los Angeles Work Injury Attorneys

Can long COVID patients seek workers’ compensation?

On Behalf of | Feb 28, 2024 | Workers' Compensation

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact lives globally, questions continue to arise regarding the rights and support available to those affected, particularly individuals experiencing long-term symptoms, commonly referred to as long COVID.

In employment, one crucial concern is whether long COVID patients can seek workers’ compensation. In the United States, the Division of Federal Employees’ Compensation (DFEC), under the U.S. Department of Labor, has established specific procedures for addressing workers’ comp claims related to COVID-19 among high-risk federal employees.

Special procedures by DFEC

DFEC has recognized the challenges in determining the exact circumstances of contracting COVID-19, given its widespread transmission and varied presentation. To address this, DFEC has implemented special procedures tailored to federal employees who assert that they contracted COVID-19 while performing their job duties.

DFEC acknowledges certain federal positions as inherently more susceptible to COVID-19 exposure due to the nature of the work involved. These occupations include:

  • Law enforcement officers
  • First responders
  • Frontline medical personnel
  • Public health personnel

Additionally, DFEC extends consideration to other roles that entail frequent, close and in-person interactions with the public.

Differential treatment of claims for non-federal workers

Unlike in the case of high-risk federal employees, DFEC adopts a different approach in handling COVID-related workers’ comp claims for employees whose jobs are not considered high-risk. These employees must provide evidence demonstrating their on-the-job exposure to the virus and medical documentation supporting the assertion that work-related activities directly caused or exacerbated their COVID-19 diagnosis.

Clearly, navigating the workers’ compensation system, particularly concerning infectious diseases like COVID-19, presents various challenges. To begin with, establishing a direct link between workplace exposure and COVID-19 infection can be complex, especially considering the virus’s widespread community transmission.

Moreover, obtaining comprehensive medical evidence to support a claim is crucial. This may involve medical records, test results and expert opinions linking an employee’s condition to work-related activities.

Workers’ compensation is a vital resource for employees who suffer injuries or illnesses during their employment period. For federal employees affected by COVID-19, seeking workers’ compensation through DFEC is a potential avenue for support. However, other employees must adhere to the necessary evidentiary requirements to access the benefits they may be entitled to.