Getting Disability Benefits for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

by Clauson on May 7, 2018



The Social Security Administration adheres to the diagnostic criteria established by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control regarding chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). Anyone applying for social security disability benefits for chronic fatigue syndrome must prove they have suffered at least four of these six symptoms:

  • Recurring/persistent sore throat
  • Atypical/chronic headaches
  • Muscle/joint pain
  • Extreme deficits in concentration and memory
  • Tender/inflamed lymph nodes
  • Extreme fatigue/illness following physical activity that lasts at least 24 hours

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

In addition, applicants will need to show they have been thoroughly examined and tested to rule out other causes of their symptoms upon submitting paperwork for their CFS disability case.

What Is the Application Process for Social Security Disability Benefits for CFS?

In addition to all doctors’ reports, test results and other clinically pertinent information, the SSA needs documentation of descriptions of functional limitations that applicants and their physicians have noted from the time an applicant first began having symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome. Examples of functions the SSA deems as mental or work-related include the ability to walk, stand, lift, remembering and carrying out instructions and using appropriate judgment when making decisions.

Nearly 90 percent of successful CFS disability cases result with applicants being awarded monthly benefits according to SSA’s “medical-vocational allowance” guidelines. This allowance considers an applicant’s age, work history, education level and their residual functional capacity when determining if the applicant can work full time. RFCs are descriptions of an applicant’s maximum mental and physical abilities despite their other impairments.

What Is a Medically Determinable Impairment?

Social Security Ruling 14-1p states that while chronic fatigue syndrome can be disabling, it must be proven to be a medically determinable impairment (MDR) using laboratory findings or other medical tests. The SSA also accepts the following to establish an MDR:

  • Elevated antibodies in the bloodstream indicating Epstein-Barr virus
  • Abnormal brain scans
  • Results of psychological tests
  • Tests showing hypotension (neurally mediated)

Applicants seeking social security disability benefits for chronic fatigue syndrome will also need to provide enough third-party, subjective and clinical reports clearly outlining the extent and prolonged existence of CFS symptoms.

CFS is one of the more difficult disabilities to get approved by the SSA. Legal assistance can significantly improve the chance your CFS disability case is accepted. Contact an SSI lawyer today for help with your case.

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