Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (“CFS”) is characterized by incapacitating fatigue, that is experienced as profound exhaustion and extremely poor stamina, and problems with concentration and short-term memory. CFS is usually accompanied by flu-like symptoms, such as pain in the joints and muscles, unrefreshing sleep, tender lymph nodes, sore throat and headache. CFS sufferers experience post-exertional malaise,which is a worsening of symptoms following physical or mental exertion occurring within 12-48 hours of the exertion and requiring an extended recovery period.
The symptoms of CFS are highly variable and fluctuate in severity, which complicates treatment and the ability to cope with the illness. Since most symptoms are invisible, CFS is difficult for others to understand it. In fact, the Social Security Administration (the “SSA) had to issue a Ruling specifically addressing how CFS claims need to be evaluated.
A 51 year old medical secretary with CFS retained me after her application for Social Security Disability (“SSD”) benefits was denied. I reapplied and secured her SSD benefits without a hearing. The key was obtaining reports from the treating doctor that provided the information described by the CFS Ruling together with detailed functional findings.
When seeking SSD benefits based upon CFS make sure that you submit medical evidence reflecting the information that the Ruling discusses. Because of the complex nature of CFS and absence of applicable diagnostic testing, it is advisable to consult with a disability attorney before applying for any type of disability benefit.