As Sandra M. Klepach’s article in the News-Hearld reports, chronic fatigue (CFS) and fibromyalgia (FMS) sufferers have diseases with symptoms that are not objective, which makes it difficult to win Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits. The Social Security Administration says that pain and fatigue illnesses “are medically determinable conditions.” In other words it is not something that can simply be proved by an MRI or blood test.
Ann Lang is a N.Y. based paralegal who has won SSDI benefits for more than 20 CFS sufferers in the past 15 years. She acknowledges that her job is one of educating people on what CFS is and doesn’t doubt for a minute that it can render a person legally disabled. She makes her point by explaining that multiple sclerosis was once thought to be something in the afflicted person’s mind. That is, until it was proven that the cause stemmed from plaque on the brain.
Winning CFS claims can be arduous and take time. Sometimes it takes up to three years of appeals before winning a CFS claim.
When deciding if a CFS sufferer qualifies for disability benefits, the Social Security Administration requires a minimum of four symptoms that persist for at least 6 months from this list:
- Impairment of short-term memory or concentration severe enough to cause substantial reduction in previous levels of occupational, educational, social, or personal activities
- Sore throat
- Tender cervical or axillary lymph nodes
- Muscle pain
- Multi-joint pain without joint swelling or redness
- Headaches of a new type, pattern or severity
- Unrefreshing sleep
- Postexternal malaise lasting more than 24 hours