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VA Disability Benefits for COVID-19

VA benefits for COVID

As of September 2022, nearly half a million military members had gotten sick with COVID-19. And when that many people get sick with the same thing–especially in the military–many of them could have lingering effects that others don’t experience. Where coronavirus goes, there’s a problem called “long COVID”, which may aggravate other medical issues or create new ones.

Getting COVID-19 isn’t enough at press time to qualify for VA disability benefits. But if you suffer from long COVID you could become eligible. Why?

What Qualifies you for COVID-Related VA Benefits?

You must first have contracted COVID-19, and you must have served within a specific window of time on active duty (see below). You must be experiencing additional symptoms that are associated with long COVID.

How was this VA assistance approved? Federal law was changed in 2020 through the Veterans Health Care and Benefits Improvement Act to include help for military members who were infected by COVID-19.

Who is eligible to apply? Typically those who served for at least two days between March 2020 and January 2020.

Those diagnosed with COVID-19 during this time may find the VA presumes their COVID illness is service-connected which in turn means that long-term COVID-related medical issues are also presumed to be service-related.

There may be no additional proof needed in such cases other than having a record of the illness in your military or civilian medical records.

What VA Benefits Are Offered For “Long COVID”

You could qualify for free VA healthcare for your medical issues and you could also qualify for a VA disability payment. If you are suffering from long COVID, contact your primary care manager or call the VA at 800-698-2411.

How Long COVID Works

Long COVID is what we call a group of symptoms that could affect you if you were infected by COVID-19.

You may recover from the worst of the infection but the long COVID symptoms could arise up to three months later. The Department Of Veterans Affairs says anyone who has caught COVID is at risk of long COVID symptoms:

  • Altered sense of taste
  • Altered sense of smell
  • Fatigue
  • Nagging cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Heart racing, chest pain
  • Lightheadedness
  • Dizziness
  • Balance problems
  • Vision and memory problems
  • Headaches
  • Increased anxiety
  • Depression
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Abdominal pain
  • Constipation

If you suspect that you are suffering from long COVID, contact your primary care manager and call the Department of Veterans Affairs right away to discuss your immediate needs and how to file a claim for service-connected medical problems associated with COVID-19.

What To Know About COVID-19

In September 2022 the CDC reported more than 450,000 service members had gotten sick with COVID-19. Some 20% of those who suffer from COVID develop symptoms of long COVID later. Thousands of veterans could experience such symptoms based on that percentage.

If you contract COVID-19, follow the advice of your primary care provider or other caregiver. Do not attempt to self-medicate with untested and unproven “cures” such as Ivermectin.

Do not attempt to inhale bleach or peroxide fumes as some have foolishly suggested–this is extremely dangerous. Likewise, treatments suggested by some such as gargling with salt water or other treatments are not effective. COVID-19 settles in the respiratory tract and gargling will not help.

Other COVID-19 Facts

  • Cold weather does not kill the COVID-19 virus.
  • Hot and humid conditions do not affect the virus where transmission is concerned.
  • Drinking hot water or taking hot baths does NOT CURE COVID-19.
  • Exposing yourself to high temperatures will NOT kill COVID-19.
  • Steam inhalation is not a cure for COVID-19
  • Cannabis use is said by some to prevent COVID-19. This is unproven.
  • Drinking alcohol of any kind does not cure COVID-19.
  • Colloidal silver, a quack medicine type “snake oil” supplement denounced by the FDA, was touted as a cure for coronavirus. Do not take colloidal silver for any reason.

What the CDC Says About Long COVID

  • Post-COVID conditions can last weeks, months, or longer according to CDC.gov.
  • Post-COVID conditions may occur “more often” after severe COVID-19 illness.
  • Anyone who has been infected may experience post-COVID conditions, even those who did not show symptoms.
  • The unvaccinated may be at an elevated for post-COVID conditions.
  • Some long COVID symptoms may appear in people who did not realize they were infected in the first place.