Individuals suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) and fibromyalgia may be eligible for Social Security benefits in certain circumstances.

CFS and fibromyalgia are related illnesses with overlapping symptoms. The most noteworthy feature of CFS is prolonged fatigue, while the main symptom of fibromyalgia is chronic pain throughout the body.

Federal regulations consider a medical condition such as CFS or fibromyalgia as a disability if it’s based on a “medically determinable impairment” evidenced by medical signs, symptoms, and laboratory findings.

CFS is a systemic disorder marked by complex symptoms that can vary in incidence, duration, and severity. This debilitating condition is characterized by prolonged fatigue that lasts six months or more, and results in a substantial reduction in previous levels of occupational, educational, social, or personal activities.

Social Security regulations incorporate the definition of CFS provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). According to the CDC, physicians should diagnose CFS only after excluding alternative medical and psychiatric causes of the chronic fatigue. There must be a concurrence of four or more symptoms, all of which must have persisted or recurred during six or more consecutive months of illness and must not have predated the fatigue.

Common CFS symptoms include:

  • 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 or swollen cervical or axillary (underarm) lymph nodes
  • Muscle pain or weakness
  • Multi-joint pain without swelling or redness
  • Headaches of a new type, pattern, or severity
  • Sleep disruption
  • Severe photosensitivity or trouble with focusing vision
  • Lightheadedness, fainting, dizziness
  • Increased fatigue after prolonged standing
  • Neurocognitive problems, such as memory and concentration problems

Fibromyalgia is characterized by: fatigue; widespread pain and tenderness in the joints, muscles, tendons, and other soft tissues; headaches; cognitive complaints; sleep disruption; depression; and anxiety.

To be diagnosed with fibromyalgia, an individual must have had three months or more of widespread pain and tenderness in at least 11 of 18 areas, including:

  • Arms (elbows)
  • Buttocks
  • Chest
  • Knees
  • Lower back
  • Neck
  • Rib cage
  • Shoulders
  • Thighs

A disability is defined under federal law as the inability to engage in any substantial gainful activity by reason of any medically determinable physical impairment that can be expected to result in death, or which has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months.

The law office of Neil H. Good has extensive experience helping clients obtain Social Security benefits to which they are entitled. Documentation of the symptoms, medical signs, and lab findings for CFS and fibromyalgia is absolutely critical in proving your disability. It’s not unusual in cases involving CFS and fibromyalgia to have conflicting evidence in medical records because of the complicated diagnostic processes. We are able to assist clients in getting clarification from medical providers of any such conflicts in the medical evidence, and to provide guidance on documenting physical and mental impairments.

The law office of Neil H. Good offers professional, personalized attention to your SSI disability concerns, including CFS and fibromyalgia, and can provide knowledgeable advice on your particular situation. Contact our office to schedule your free case evaluation today.