The Covid-19 virus has had a significant impact on all aspect of Irish society and may continue to do so for some time. The full longer-term impact of the virus on the overall health and well-being of those who have caught the virus still remains somewhat unclear.
While the socio-economic impacts of Covid-19 will affect many people, the impact of long Covid may more acutely adversely affect those most distanced from the labour market and in receipt of a Jobseeker’s payment in seeking to return to work.
Although most people who get Covid-19 recover quickly, for some the effects of the virus can last for weeks or months. This is known as “long Covid”. For people affected by long Covid, it can seem like a cycle of improving for a time and then getting worse again. These long-term effects are not only felt among those who needed to go to hospital, or even who felt seriously unwell when they first caught the virus, with people who only suffered mild symptoms also suffering from long Covid.
Some of the longer lasting physical and mental health symptoms of coronavirus can include:
- breathlessness or shortness of breath
- difficulty sleeping
- anxiety and depression
- confusion, inability to concentrate
- short-term memory loss
- heart palpitations
- chest tightness or pain
- joint or muscle pain
- not being able to think straight or focus (‘brain fog’)
This is not an exhaustive list of possible symptoms, and the impact of symptoms will vary from person to person.
In the context of those who are in receipt of a Jobseeker’s payment from the Department of Social Protection (DSP) these symptoms, either individually or combined, can dramatically affect an unemployed person’s ability and capacity to Genuinely Seek Work, to engage in looking for work, and to physically or mentally engage in work, as is required of those in receipt of a Jobseeker’s payment (Allowance or Benefit).
Jobseeker’s who are adversely affected by the impact “long Covid” may find that they are ‘unfit’ or incapable of work, are not able to satisfy the ‘Genuinely Seeking Work’ conditionality of the jobseeker’s payment. This may mean that they need to consider applying for other income support measures as provided by the Department of Social Protection to persons with a disability who are unfit for work.
While there is no one specific test or premise that can categorically confirm that a person is suffering from “long Covid”, and where “long Covid” in itself is not a specific medical condition, the presence of “long Covid” can be determined by a number of factors, including prior clinical medical diagnosis of infection, engagement in any treatment, and any clinical medical assessment of the ongoing impact of physical and mental health symptoms by a doctor / GP / hospital or long Covid clinic, as relatable to the previous listed symptoms.
For the purposes of substantiating a claim for “long Covid” recognition of COVID-19 infection can be obtained by requesting a COVID-19 Recovery Certificate through the gov.ie website.This form can be used to prove that a person has recovered from COVID-19 in the last 6 months and where they have had a positive COVID-19 test (RT-PCR or ‘NAAT’) more than 11 days ago. Certificates will remain valid for 180 days after the day of a positive test. Certificate are provided by e-mail, usually within 5 days of application.
Persons in receipt of a Jobseeker’s Benefit, who may no longer qualify because of any illness / inability / incapacity to Genuinely Seek Work, may qualify for an Illness Benefit payment, subject to the standard qualifying conditions inclusive of PRSI requirements.
Equally, persons in receipt of Jobseeker’s Allowance, who many no longer qualify because of any illness / inability / incapacity to Genuinely Seek Work, may qualify for Disability Allowance (DA), again, subject to satisfying the standard scheme qualifying conditions.
For more information, or support, please contact the Welfare to Work Section in the INOU – e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone on 01 - 8560088