Over time the Social Security Administration has found that 1 in 4 workers currently aged 20-years-old will become disabled at some point during their career. With a 25% chance of injury or developing a severe impairment that prevents you from working, the federal government has created and implemented a number of insurance programs and other benefits programs to help hard-working individuals who have fallen on hard times. Social Security Disability (SSDI, SSD, or DI) is one of these programs.
Depending on the severity and duration of your condition or conditions, SSDI benefits due to your Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) or other serious impairment may be available. A Bentonville Social Security lawyer can help answer your questions and process your application.
Social Security Disability is a Type of Insurance for Injured Workers
Some people can be hesitant to apply for SSD benefits because they do not want a “handout” or because they want to try to work through their difficulties alone. To be clear, SSD is not a handout because you have paid into the SSD system’s trust fund for the entirety of your working life. Thus, if you do suffer a serious injury or impairment, you are drawing on a system that you have paid your fair share into already. If you meet the program’s technical and medical requirements, you will be entitled to cash benefits that you can use to purchase food, pay your household expenses, or cover your bills.
What is Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?
CFS is a disease that is experienced differently from person to person. The frequency, duration and severity of CFS flare-ups can also vary significantly over time. In short, CFS is a syndrome that causes periods of prolonged fatigue lasting 6 months or more. This fatigue limits the things that you are able to do professionally and in your personal life. As per the Center for Disease Control’s definition of CFS the hallmark features of the condition include:
- The condition has not been lifelong
- There is no other physical or mental disorder that can explain the fatigue
- Exertion or overexertion has not caused the condition
- The fatigue is not substantial improved after resting
- The affected individual’s occupational, social, educational and personal activities must be substantially curtailed due to the condition.
Other symptoms and signs exist. Furthermore, those with CFS are fairly likely to have other co-occurring conditions like fibromyalgia, IBS, Raynaud’s, migraines, and Sjogren’s syndrome.
How Does the Social Security Administration Decide on My CFS?
In April 2014, the SSA released policy interpretation ruling SSR 14-1p which details how the SSA will evaluate cases involving CFS. To receive SSD benefits you must first establish that a medically defined impairment (MDI), like CFS, exists. Once an MDI has been established, you must then show that the condition is a severe impairment. A severe impairment is one which results in significant limitations to the things that you are able to do.
CFS as an MDI cannot be established solely by providing proof a diagnosis. Rather, your must provide longitudinal medical evidence from a licensed physician. The longitudinal medical evidence should show the doctor’s review of the patient’s medical history and the detailed physical exam performed. Furthermore information about treatments and the patient’s response to those treatments should also be included.
Under the Social Security guidelines, types of medical evidence that can be valuable to showing the severity and duration of your CFS includes both laboratory findings and medical signs like:
- Nonexudative pharyngitis
- Persistent and reproducible muscle tenderness
- Swollen or tender lymph nodes
- Pronounced change in weight
- Acute inflammatory infection preceding the condition’s onset
- An abnormal MRI of the brain
- An elevated antibody titer to Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) capsid antigen
- Neurally mediated hypotension as shown by tilt table testing
When your medical evidence is analyzed, it will be weighted according to your relationship with the medical provider who provided the report. Generally speaking, if a treating physician’s opinion is not contrary to the medical evidence presented, that opinion will be granted controlling weight by the SSA.
Aside from medical evidence, the observations of lay people who you are frequently in contact with can also be considered by the SSA. Generally, non-medical sources can include you family members, your caregiver, past employers, teachers, neighbors, friends and clergy. Statements by people who are involved in your life are often made regarding your activities of daily living (ADL). One way these individuals can report on the things that you can do and the things that you cannot is through the completion of a Functional Report – Adult – Third Party (Form SSA-3380-BK). The report asks questions like where the applicant lives, what their daily routine is, if the applicant takes care of self and others, if the applicant can get around on their own, and many other questions about their ability to perform routine daily tasks.
While CFS is not one of the SSA’s listed conditions, it may qualify as a being medically equal to a condition like listing14.06B for repeated instances of undifferentiated or mixed connective tissue disease. The longitudinal medical evidence can also be utilized for this purpose along with SSA Step 4 purposes which establishes the things you are still able to do.
Put an Arkansas Social Security Disability Lawyers’s Experience to Work for You
For more than 20 years, Ken Kieklak, Attorney at Law has fought for hard-working Arkansans who can no longer work after suffering a serious injury or developing a severe impairment. For your free and confidential consultation with an Fayetteville AR disability lawyer, call (479) 316-0438 or contact us online.
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