There are many medical
conditions that are not explicitly recognized in the Social Security
Administration's listings of impairments, that nonetheless
can warrant an award of disability benefits. Fibromyalgia
and chronic fatigue are two of the most common.
Fibromyalgia is essentially a chronic pain syndrome for which there is little or no objective cause. Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) describes a condition of debilitating fatigue and other characteristic symptoms for which there is, likewise, little objective explanation.
It is commonly believed that individuals who have been diagnosed with these conditions cannot qualify for disability benefits. That is not true. Over the years, our office has successfully handled many disability claims based on fibromyalgia and CFS. However, it is getting harder to win these cases.
For many years, it seemed that some doctors were inclined to diagnose patients with fibromyalgia or CFS whenever there was no other explanation for their symptoms. That won't work any more. There are now widely recognized diagnostic criteria for both of these syndromes. Increasingly, Social Security and administrators of other disability programs are requiring that these criteria be met before an individual will be considered for an award of benefits.
Lawyers who handle fibromyalgia or CFS disability
claims should be familiar with the diagnostic criteria and carefully
determine whether those criteria have been properly documented
clients' medical records. No one suffering from fibromyalgia
or CFS ever has an easy time obtaining disability benefits. It
is becoming increasingly clear that people who don't fit the
relevant diagnostic profiles now have a much poorer chance of
being awarded benefits than those who do.