Redefining Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

To those suffering from what’s commonly known as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), the symptoms of crushing fatigue, flu-like symptoms and cognitive decline can be disabling.

However, in a Social Security Disability claim, such symptoms can be hard to prove. Many Administrative Law Judges deny such claims asserting that there’s no medical recognition of their disease and tell our clients that the problems are just “all in your head.”

A new report from an expert committee of the Institute of Medicine (IOM) hopes to change this approach. In a report titled Beyond Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: Redefining an Illness, the authors propose a new name for CFS: Systemic Exertional Intolerance Disease. The report states that name change is to prevent the stigmatization and trivialization that often comes with a diagnosis of CFS.

This report, which was supported by the Social Security Administration, can now be used to rebut a judge’s assertion that CFS is not a “real” disease.

According to this report, diagnosis requires three symptoms:

  • a substantial reduction or impairment in the ability to engage in pre-illness levels of occupational, education, social, or personal activities, that persists for more than six months and is accompanied by fatigue, which is often profound; is of new of definite onset (not lifelong); is not the result of engaging in excessive exertion; and is not substantially alleviated by rest, and;
  • post-exertional malaise; and
  • unrefreshing sleep.

We welcome this this new title and diagnostic criteria for a disease that we have found to be quite real and disabling to a number of our clients. This report should help in winning a disability claim for them.

If you have questions about CFS and how it may affect your status for disability benefits, call us today.