When work becomes impossible: When Long Covid falls into financial disrepair

Status: 07/25/2022 08:20

The Robert Koch Institute estimates that ten percent of all people infected with the corona suffer from Long Covid. Affected people, who are therefore no longer able to work, feel left to themselves by the social system.

Cornelia Eichhorn can concentrate for 45 minutes. “Then came the physical symptoms,” she says. Pain and dizziness plague her every day. Her lungs are still not getting enough oxygen, which causes heart problems. In November 2020, Cornelia Eichhorn contracted Corona – from her mother after she was infected in the hospital. Eichhorn’s employment has been suspended since then, and she is sick.

Cornelia Eichhorn is 42 years old and suffers from post-Covid syndrome. In her work as a documentary filmmaker in medical research, every number is important. For example, it compares research drugs. “I really like my job,” she says. “I would like to work again as a documentary filmmaker in the future, but at the moment my health and health are more important to me.”

“In no man’s land of our social system”

Her sick pay ended on May 9. It has been under so-called “control” since then, he explains. “Actually, I am now a bit in no man’s land in our social system because no one is really responsible for me right now.” She applied for an invalidity pension. A temporary pension for two, three or five years would certainly help. But it can take up to a year to process. He may have been receiving unemployment benefits for so long, “but this claim still has not been approved.” At the moment, Cornelia Eichhorn lives off her savings.

Social insurance catches working people who are thrown out of work – for example in the event of an accident at work or cancer. They struggle with the consequences of a corona infection. In addition to the disability pension Eichhorn counts on, those affected may apply for other assistance: Healthcare professionals may consider Covid-19 an occupational disease. And anyone who gets infected at work can report it as an accident at work.

Recognition bureaucratic and complicated

But recognition isn’t just bureaucratic and complicated – especially for post-Covid sufferers. The VdK community association notes that progress is too slow. “Today, pension and accident insurance is often very rigid and the diagnosis of long-term Covid illnesses is not yet as comprehensive as it would be to the benefit of our members and many others in Germany,” says VdK CEO Verena Bentele.

According to the VdK, the diagnosis rate of occupational diseases is quite high, amounting to 80 percent. However, only 25% of applications would be recognized permanently. In the case of accidents at work, where it is necessary to legally prove that someone was infected at work, it is only 30%. “For us, as the VdK community association, it is important that people are well-regarded and tested, and receive their support and help,” says Bentele. “And you don’t have to be constantly afraid of losing support because of course it is never helpful in the healing process.”

Multiplying applications for occupational diseases

The number of these applications is alarmingly high. In 2019, before the corona pandemic, more than 80,000 suspicious reports of occupational disease were submitted to statutory accident insurance. In 2021, there were over 220,000 – most of them had a good 150,000 Covid-19 applications.

The German statutory accident insurance comments on this upon request tagesschau.de Not. The Deutsche Rentenversicherung Bund states in writing:

Claims for a Disability Pension are made only when there has been no improvement in physical limitations over the long term and it is possible to make a reliable medical prognosis of future outcomes. Moreover, in line with the guiding principle “rehabilitation before retirement”, an attempt is made to prevent a decline in earning capacity through appropriate rehabilitation services.

Hope for a disability pension

Cornelia Eichhorn has been in rehab twice. However, it cannot work. Like many other affected people, he is currently counting on a disability pension. “If not, we would have fallen further, and at worst it would have meant Hartz IV. And of course it’s a perspective you really don’t want.

Eichhorn is pleased with the small steps she takes on her path to healing. He can no longer plan far ahead. “There is some uncertainty,” he says. “I just hope that the welfare system that is well known in Germany will catch us now.”

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