60% of severe Long Covid patients declared medically unfit to work after 2 years
Three out of five people with severe Long Covid are declared medically unfit to work two years later, and benefits agency UWV expects “these figures to remain the same,” a spokesperson said to NRC.
Anyone who earns less than 65 percent of their previous income after two years of illness is eligible for a disability benefit under the work and income according to the labor capacity act (WIA). People could start applying for this benefit due to Long Covid in February last year.
Long Covid is when coronavirus symptoms persist for more than three months after a coronavirus infection. How many people in the Netherlands have Long Covid is unclear. About 20,000 are affiliated with the support organization C-support.
Last year, almost 1,900 people reported to the UWV for an assessment due to Long Covid symptoms. They suffer from pain and fatigue, sometimes too high heart rates, or anxiety and depression, UWV insurance doctor Diny van der Geest said to the newspaper.
Almost half of Ven der Geest’s clients are over 50, but many are also in their twenties. Some had underlying health issues like diabetes or autoimmune diseases, but others were fit and healthy before getting the coronavirus.
Almost a third of those who received a Long Covid diagnosis at the UWV worked in healthcare. This sector counts almost twice as many employees unfit to work due to the disease than other sectors. People who have had Long Covid for more than two years contracted the coronavirus in the first wave when many healthcare workers became infected.
The UWV expects that some Long Covid patients declared medically unfit to work will be able to return to the labor market at some point. “Little is known about the course of Long Covid,” van der Geest said. “It is still possible for people to recover and get back to work.”
Earlier this week, scientists raised concerns about Dutch studies into Long Covid. These are at risk of delay or cancelation because their funding is not properly arranged, they said.