How to file for disability, Filing for SSI
Disability Requirements, Disability Status
How long is the wait?, Disability Application
The Social Security List of Impairments
Qualifying for Disability, Mental Disability
Disability Lawyer Info, Disability Back Pay

Applying for disability with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, CFS

Basic requirements for disability claims

The definition of disability for Social Security purposes has two main requirements. The first requirement is that you cannot be working and earning over the SGA limit for twelve months or that you expect to be unable to work for twelve months due to your disabling condition.

If you are working and earning over the SGA limit, your disability claim will be technically denied without being set for a medical determination. If your condition is not expected to prevent you from being able to perform SGA-level work activity for twelve months or more, it is likely your disability claim will be denied for duration.

However, you should file your disability claim anyway as there usually is no guarantee that you will be back to work within twelve months.

The second requirement of Social Security Disability is that you must have a severe medically determinable impairment. This means you must have objective medical evidence from acceptable medical sources (i.e. physicians, psychologists, psychiatrists, and other medical professionals). Social Security does not consider chiropractors to be acceptable medical sources.

Social Security Disability examiners use the criteria outlined in impairment listings in the disability guidebook titled “Disability Evaluation Under Social Security” or the blue book as it is more commonly known. This book contains impairment listings that cover all body systems. Each impairment listing provides the medical criteria needed to meet or equal the severity requirements of Social Security Disability and SSI disability.

Filing for disability with Chronic Fatigue

Unfortunately, there is no specific listing that provides criteria for the evaluation of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, although this does not mean disability examiners have no way to evaluate CFS. They will compare the specific findings in your disability case to any pertinent listing.

For example, a disability examiner might use the criteria in listing 14.06 B (Undifferentiated and mixed connective tissue disease) to equal severity requirements. This impairment listing states you must have at least two of the following four constitutional symptoms or signs: severe fatigue, fever, malaise, or involuntary weight loss along with one of the following three limitations at a severe or marked level: limitation of daily living, maintaining social functioning, or completing tasks in a timely manner due to problems with concentration, persistence, or pace.

Social Security must also consider other mental impairment listings when a person has psychological manifestations related to CFS. The same is true for individuals who are filing for disability with physical manifestations related to their chronic fatigue syndrome.

Even if the disability examiner cannot find an equivalent within the impairment listings, you may be able to be approved for disability benefits if your chronic fatigue syndrome causes symptoms or manifestations that are so severe that they cause extreme limitations in your functional ability.

Social Security Disability is based upon functional ability rather than specific impairments, therefore you may be found disabled if you are not able to perform any of your past work or any other work when your age, education, job skills, and residual functional capability are considered.

More about the condition

Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is still quite misunderstood and has been the center of much debate. The disorder has no known causes, though it has some hypothetical causes, no definite tests to prove its validity and no known cures, though some treatments may help the disorder. Even the name of the disorder has caused much debate.

Chronic fatigue syndrome is a complex disorder that is has many signs and symptoms; the most common symptom being extreme fatigue for no reason that is not improved by rest and may get worse with light physical or mental activity. Other symptoms usually accompany chronic fatigue syndrome, such as muscle pain, insomnia or restless sleep, weakness, impaired memory and impaired concentration. Chronic fatigue syndrome usually must be present for at least six months before it is diagnosed and can last for years. When diagnosing chronic fatigue syndrome the first thing a doctor must do is rule out other conditions since it is very similar to major depressive disorder, fibromyalgia, bipolar affective disorders, multiple chemical sensitivities and many other conditions.

Over one million people in the United States have been diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome. It is most common in people aged 40 to 60, though other ages are susceptible to the disorder, and affects women four times more often than men. Some people are debilitated by the disorder and others are able to live productive lives. It has been reported that only 5 to 10 percent of sufferers are completely cured.

Treatment for chronic fatigue syndrome is usually intended to provide relief for symptoms individually, since there is no known cure. Drug therapies such as pain medication and sleep medication have been used to treat the disorder, as well as physical therapies, cognitive behavioral therapies and alternative and complimentary therapies. Lifestyle modifications such as a healthy diet, light exercise such as gentle yoga and plenty of rest have also proven helpful.

There is a known pattern that the disorder usually begins with ‘flu-like’ symptoms that do not go away and it is usually accompanied by a period of great stress in one’s life. When patients fall ill they think it will pass and was perhaps due to stress, but the disorder does not leave like a typical flu. There are cases of gradual onset, but they are reported less often.

Chronic fatigue syndrome is not thought to be contagious or to cause early death.

Essential Questions

What is the Social Security Disability SSI list of impairments?

Can you work while getting or applying for Disability?

How Often Does Social Security Approve Disability The First Time You Apply?

Tips for getting Social Security Disability or SSI benefits approved

What medical conditions will get you approved for disability?

What kind of Mental Problems Qualify for Disability?

Receiving a Disability Award Letter

Conditions Social Security will recognize as a disability

Previously answered questions regarding SSD and SSI

Applying for disability in your state

Most popular topics on SSDRC.com

Social Security Disability SSI Questions

The listings, list of disabling impairments

Can a mental illness qualify you for disability?

Disability Lawyers prevent unnecessary denials

How much Social Security Disability SSI back pay?

How to apply for disability for a child or children

Filing a Social Security Disability SSI application

Filing for disability - when to file

How to apply for disability - where to apply

Qualifications for disability benefits

How to Prove you are disabled and Win your Disability Benefits

Qualifying for Disability - The Process

How to get disability for depression

Getting disability for fibromyalgia

SSI disability for children with ADHD

What is the Application Process for Social Security Disability and SSI?

Common Mistakes to avoid after being denied for Disability

Social Security Disability SSI Exam tips

More Social Security Disability SSI Questions

Social Security Disability SSI definitions

What makes you eligible for Social Security Disability or SSI?

New and featured pages on SSDRC.com

Who can help me file for disability?

Related Body System Impairments:

Social Security Disability SSI and Fibromyalgia
Facts about Chronic fatigue and Filing for Disability
Diagnosed with cfs and fm, would i be eligible for SSD?
Fibromyalgia, Social Security Disability, and Applying for Benefits
Chronic Fatigue, Social Security Disability, and Applying for Benefits

These pages answer some of the most basic questions for individuals who are considering filing a claim.

Can you get temporary Social Security Disability or SSI benefits?

Permanent Social Security Disability

What is the difference between Social Security Disability and SSI?

Who is eligible for SSI disability?

Can I Be Eligible For SSI And Social Security Disability At The Same Time?

What makes a person eligible to receive disability benefits?

Applying for Disability - How long does it take to get Social Security Disability or SSI benefits?

What happens if I file a disability application and it is denied by a disability examiner or Judge?

For the sake of clarity, SSDRC.com is not the Social Security Administration, nor is it associated or affiliated with SSA. This site is a personal, private website that is published, edited, and maintained by former caseworker and former disability claims examiner, Tim Moore, who was interviewed by the New York Times on the topic of Social Security Disability and SSI benefits in an article entitled "The Disability Mess" and also by the Los Angeles Times on the subject of political attempts to weaken the Social Security Disability system.

The goal of the site is to provide information about how Social Security Disability and SSI work, the idea being that qualified information may help claimants pursue their claims and appeals, potentially avoiding time-consuming mistakes. If you find the information on this site helpful and believe it would be helpful to others, feel free to share links to its homepage or other pages on website resource pages, blogs, or social media. Copying of this material, however, is prohibited.

To learn more about the author, please visit the SSDRC.com homepage and view the "about this site" link near the bottom of the page.