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Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: Disability Difficult to Define?

Chronic fatigue and immune dysfunction syndrome (CFIDS) is something much more than simply being tired all the time or not getting enough sleep. Anyone among the roughly one million people with CFIDS (also known as chronic fatigue syndrome - CFS) in the United States will tell you that this syndrome can cause severe disability and prevent one from working.

Much about the disability is unknown, and as one recent news story notes, the debate about the disability's causes and effective treatment will continue. A recent scientific breakthrough about the cause of CFIDS has recently caused debate in the scientific community.

Notwithstanding the scientific debate, the Social Security Administration continues to recognize the disease as a disability and pays disability benefits to individuals with a diagnosis of CFIDS. Relying on the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the SSA has determined that people with 4 or more of a number of acknowledged CFIDS symptoms at the same time probably qualify for CFIDS, as long as another condition is not the cause of the symptoms. These symptoms include short-term memory problems, sore throat, achy muscles, sleeping problems and frequent headaches.

The SSA views disability as having a condition that can be medically determined and which renders someone unable to participate in "substantial gainful activities." Commonly, a firm medical diagnosis can help someone qualify for benefits; as more scientific debate continues, however, it may be difficult for some to obtain benefits CFIDS without the help of an advocate because of the lingering uncertainty surrounding the condition.

In order for the SSA to accept the diagnosis of CFIDS, applicants and physicians must provide detailed information. The disability specialists at Binder & Binder, The National Social Security Disability Advocates, help individuals throughout the United States obtain benefits for disabling conditions such as CFIDS. Their goal: to help those disabled by CFIDS and other illnesses obtain the benefits they need.

Source: SSA, "Social Security Ruling, SSR 99-2p.; Titles II and XVI: Evaluating
Cases Involving Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFIDS)
," Apr. 1999.

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