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Obtaining Social Security benefits for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) causes significant fatigue that can debilitate the person. Symptoms of the disorder include pain, weakness, impaired memory or concentration and insomnia. Rest or sleep does not remedy the symptoms associated with the disorder. The condition may worsen with physical or mental activity. The disease can greatly reduce one’s ability to complete daily activities. Sufferers often struggle to secure or retain substantial gainful employment.

To qualify for Social Security Disability benefits, a person with chronic fatigue syndrome must be considered disabled under the law. Generally, a person is disabled if he or she is unable to participate in substantial gainful work because of a medical condition that has lasted or will last for at least one year, or expected to result in death. A minor (under 18 years of age) is disabled if he or she suffers from a physical or mental impairment that creates at least two marked functional limitations.

In order to qualify for Social Security Disability benefits, a person must have an impairment established by medical evidence. An application for benefits requires information that helps demonstrate the existence, severity and duration of a condition. A report will typically include thorough documentation of the person’s medical history and all relevant clinical and laboratory findings. Under the law, symptoms cannot be the basis for a finding of disability; however, the effects of symptoms may be an important factor in deciding whether a person is disabled. If an application for benefits is rejected, the decision may be appealed.

A CFS application should include information contrasting functional capabilities of a person since the onset of CFS with the abilities prior to the onset of the disorder. As part of that application, many successful claimants include a statement from a physician that reflects a person’s ability to perform work-related activities on a sustained and regular basis. Physical work-related functions include walking, standing, sitting and similar activities. Mental work-related functions involve the ability to understand, remember and complete instructions. A condition can impact the ability to work in a myriad of ways.

In evaluating a disability for a person with CFS, the Social Security Administration looks at all available medical evidence. Ultimately, the agency considers the impact of the illness on the individual’s level of function. If the agency does not have enough information to make a decision, the agency may request additional tests.

To ensure the strength of your Social Security Disability application, you may benefit from legal assistance. A lawyer can help you supplement your application with important medical and non-medical evidence.