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Disability Benefits for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

According to research from the Centers for Disease Control’s Division of Viral and Rickettsial Diseases, over 800,000 Americans may be affected with Chronic Fatigue syndrome. Of this number, as many as 80% have not received a formal diagnosis, making the disease a silent, but considerable, public health concern.

About Chronic Fatigue SyndromeLisa M. Ritacco - Social Security Disability Lawyer

Chronic fatigue syndrome is a debilitating, ongoing condition which causes individuals to feel overwhelming exhaustion for no apparent reason. Because the condition is made worse by physical or mental strain, people with severe chronic fatigue syndrome may be unable to work. The causes of chronic fatigue syndrome are not fully understood, which means doctors diagnose it based on the presence of symptoms and exclusion of other medical disorders, rather than through specific clinical testing. Many other illnesses have symptoms which resemble chronic fatigue syndrome and would have to be excluded as the cause of a person’s symptoms. These include depression, sleep disorders, diabetes, lyme disease, fibromyalgia, and others. The criteria for a diagnosis of chronic fatigue syndrome typically includes six months or more of ongoing, debilitating fatigue with no organic cause, accompanied by four or more of the following:

  • Malaise lasting 24 hours or more after exertion
  • Unsatisfying sleep
  • Short-term memory or concentration problems
  • Muscle pain
  • Joint pain without swelling
  • Headaches
  • Sore lymph nodes
  • Recurring sore throat

If you suspect you have chronic fatigue syndrome, the first step to obtaining disability benefits is to secure a diagnosis from your doctor. Unfortunately, there is no known cure for chronic fatigue syndrome and no medications specifically targeted toward CFS patients, although medications that treat other health conditions may provide some benefit. Thus, close follow up with a doctor who is experienced in treating CFS is crucial.

Does Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Qualify for Disability Benefits?

It is possible to secure disability benefits if you suffer from chronic fatigue syndrome, however, because the disease is so poorly understood, thorough medical documentation is required. To qualify for chronic fatigue syndrome disability benefits, you’ll need to demonstrate that your condition is expected to keep you from working your current job or performing any other job for a year or more. Acceptable evidence may include all medical records from the disease’s onset to the present, including bloodwork and lab results, hospitalization records and physician’s reports.

What Are SSI and SSD?

Chronic fatigue syndrome disability benefits are processed under one of two federal programs: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). If you have worked and paid into Social Security previously for a specified number of hours, you should apply to SSD. Individuals without a demonstrable work history can apply under SSI.

What Is an RFC?

A Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) assessment is used to determine the level of work you can theoretically perform given your disability. The results of your RFC will be compared with your work history for the past 15 years to determine whether or not you are fit to either return to your old job or train for a new one in a related field.

What If My Claim Is Rejected?

If you suffer from chronic fatigue syndrome and have been denied SSD or SSI benefits, Lisa M. Ritacco may be able to help. With over nine years of experience appealing SSD and SSI decisions, we can advise you on the best way to proceed with your claim. Contact our Media, PA office for your free consultation.

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