JEFFERSON COUNTY, Tenn. (WATE) — For some people, COVID can cause symptoms that may last for weeks or months after the infection has gone, it’s called post-COVID-19 Condition or long-COVID. One Jefferson County woman, who is suffering from long-COVID, recently become the first COVID survivor in Tennessee to be awarded Social Security benefits for COVID.

Keniethea Tadlock‘s recovery from COVID-19 has been very slow after it nearly took her life in September 2020. Although she’s not presently infected with the virus, her antibodies are triggering inflammatory responses that cause other debilitating problems.

Tadlock says her doctor can’t predict when her health will improve because her lingering health challenges are many. Persistent post COVID symptoms include impaired memory, poor concentration, shortness of breath, cognitive dysfunction, which people call brain fog, as well as anxiety.

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Before she contracted the virus, Keniethea and her husband Steve Blankenship led a normal life with no health issues. However, the last 14 plus months have been a struggle for the 45-year-old as she’s tried to regain her health, pay off her medical bills, and fight her former employer for benefits. One battle she recently won is with Social Security. It’s believed she’s the first COVID survivor in Tennessee to be awarded benefits.

“As of right now I am the first one to receive disability for COVID-19,” said Tadlock. “I have fought for a year, over a year, to get it. And, I’ve had to prove that COVID-19 was the issue.”

Her medical bills are another issue that WATE has reported. A $175,000 payment was made last year when Tadlock had health insurance from her employer. Tadlock now has well over a thousand pages of medical charges that have accumulated since Sept of last year.

“Six-hundred thousand dollars. I’ve had to have ambulances come and pick me up due to my oxygen level dropping, so it’s well over that now,” said Tadlock.

Tadlock claimed she contracted the virus last year from a fellow worker at Blossman Gas in Halls. She filed for workers’ compensation. The court declined her claim, saying there was “no evidence.” She is currently appealing that decision. One hearing has already been delayed. A new date has yet to be scheduled, but Tadlock said she is not giving up.

“I want them to pay my bills that I have and own up to what they have done to me. But if they were like I am right now, they would pursue it as well.”