Disability Claims and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

By Michelle Shvarts
Principal Attorney

People seek Social Security disability benefits for a range of debilitating health conditions. Some of these health conditions have been studied much longer and are more established. Others have only been identified in recent years and there are many people who are not as familiar with them and their symptoms. They are also unlikely to appear in the Social Security Administration’s Blue Book of qualifying conditions. 

One such medical condition is Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), which is sometimes known as Chronic Fatigue and Immune Dysfunction Syndrome (CFIDS) or Myalgia Encephalomyelitis (ME). Just because CFS is not listed in the Blue Book does not mean that those who suffer from this condition are out of luck regarding disability benefits. There are those with CFS who have been granted Social Security disability benefits, but disability benefits for CFS can be difficult to obtain.

Disability Claims and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

The cause of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) has yet to be identified. It has, however, been closely linked with stress, nerve system inflammation, and compromised immune system. Women between the ages of 30 to 50 are most at risk for CFS, which is a condition characterized mainly by chronic fatigue that rest does not properly relieve. Along with the unrelenting fatigue, those with CFS may face psychological manifestations that include depression, anxiety, or irritability. Brain fog is often common among those with CFS. Brain fog may involve confusion or forgetfulness or may even manifest as speech-language problems.

The severity of some of the side effects of CFS can make it difficult for a person to maintain a consistent work schedule. Disruptions due to CFS can impact work and personal activities. While the Social Security Administration (SSA) will likely approach a disability benefits claim based on CFS alone, a claimant with SSA may find success regardless. A claimant may have to be committed to pursuing their claim beyond the initial application and reconsideration levels. Some CFS claimants may need to stay persistent through the Administrative Law Judge hearing level and beyond.

To have the best chance for success, claimants with CFS will need substantial, objective medical evidence, including a range of lab reports in order to substantiate a claim of CFS and how the condition has prevented them from retaining substantially gainful employment. Doctors should have ruled out other possible conditions that may have caused a person’s symptoms before diagnosing them with CFS. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has established a set of diagnostic criteria for CFS and the criteria has been endorsed by the SSA. To merit a CFS diagnosis, a patient must have persistently experienced at least four of the following symptoms for at least six consecutive months:

  • Recurring sore throat
  • Abnormal headaches
  • Muscle pain
  • Notable problems with memory or concentration
  • Tender lymph nodes
  • Redness or swelling in multiple joints
  • Chronic fatigue not relieved by rest or sleep
  • Illness after exertion that lasts 24 hours

Contact Our Los Angeles Social Security Disability Attorney Today

A disability claim based on Chronic Fatigue Syndrome can be exceptionally difficult, but not impossible, to bring. The team at Disability Advocates Group is here to help you present your case in the strongest way possible. Contact us today.

About the Author
Ms. Shvarts is the managing attorney for Disability Advocates Group. She opened Disability Advocates Group to assist individuals who became disabled and unable to work to obtain the benefits they need and deserve.  Ms. Shvarts and the rest of the team at Disability Advocates Group are dedicated to assisting individuals obtain Social Security Disability Benefits (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits.