Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Social Security Disability


The term “chronic fatigue syndrome” is used to define a number of misunderstood medical conditions that are the direct cause of extreme fatigue lasting no less than six months. The exact causes are unknown, but most medical researchers are of the opinion that there may be some connection to viral infections and immune disorders. Both genders are affected, but women tend to be diagnosed more often than men.

The age range for diagnosis is anywhere between 40-60 years old, though diagnoses have been made in younger patients in more recent years. Those with chronic fatigue syndrome find it incredibly difficult to maintain gainful employment, and often work based on an adjusted schedule if they are able to work at all. Fortunately, a documented diagnosis of chronic fatigue syndrome does make many patients eligible for Social Security Disability compensation. There are specific criteria that have to be met, but it is possible to receive an income despite the debilitating symptoms of this condition.

Symptoms of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

The most important aspect of understanding chronic fatigue syndromes is that it goes far beyond feeling “very tired all the time”. Individuals suffering from chronic fatigue typically experience mental and physical exhaustion on a regular basis over extended time periods. Fatigue must be sever to the point that it disrupts sleeping and other activities the typical person performs every day, and it is usually accompanied by impaired cognitive function as well. Some persons experience muscle and joint pain, depression, and headache, though these symptoms tend to be episodic over a period 6 or more months in a row.

Diagnosing Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Diagnosis of chronic fatigue syndrome is exceptionally difficult due to the minimal amount of data regarding the condition and the lack of a definitive test that specifically determines if an individual is suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome. There is also the problem that doctors are required to rule out all other potential medical conditions with similar symptoms such as sleep disorders, psychological disorders, and HIV/AIDS.

Another major obstacle physicians face in diagnosis of chronic fatigue syndrome is the difficult time many individuals and their families have with accepting the existence of this condition, and it affects each individual differently. Some persons are able to go about their day in spite of chronic fatigue syndrome, and lead relatively normal lives with some modifications. Others, however, are left bedridden and isolated due to the severity of their symptoms.

Treatment varies dependent upon the individual in question, but generally antidepressants and/or pain relievers are prescribed to treat or alleviate symptoms. Some persons also find that an exercise routine or other physical therapy can provide relief, too.

SSA Criteria for Disability Qualification due to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Chronic fatigue syndrome is not listed anywhere in the Social Security Administration’s diagnostic manual, but many persons afflicted with the condition may still qualify. How you present your condition in your application for benefits is critical to being approved. What matters most is how extensively documented your medical history is regarding your symptoms over time, official diagnosis of a condition from your physicians, and treatment you have received to date. As there is no specific diagnostic test that can demonstrate chronic fatigue syndrome, the following symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome are the ones that should be tracked most closely:

– Swollen or tender lymph nodes

– Non-exudative pharyngitis (sore throat with no mucus or pus evident)

– Persistent and reproducible muscle tenderness

– Written statements from your physicians regarding your condition and the limitations is places on your lifestyle.

Should you be eligible for benefits and receive benefits from the SSA, it is likely to fall under medical vocational allowance funds. As a part of your case review, the SSA will examine your work history and take into account any skills you have to determine your residual functional capacity (RFC). If it is determined that you cannot adjust to another type of work, you may be awarded SSDI benefits. Bear in mind that this process is only possible with extensive physicians notes and recommendations, as well as a complete extended case history that supports your claim of a severe disability case.

Making The Strongest Case

Due to the extended and complicated nature of the SSA disability applications process, you may want to seriously consider engaging an attorney or law firm that specializes in disability application and appeals cases. They are uniquely equipped to help assemble your medical records and doctor’s documentation of your symptoms and condition. A disability lawyer or firm also knows the ins and outs of the application and appeals process, so they are positioned to enable your in making the strongest case possible for disability benefits based on your chronic fatigue syndrome diagnosis. If you aren’t certain of how to get started or what the process entails, make an appointment for a consultation as soon as possible.