How to Use the Social Security Ruling for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Artwork: Elizabeth D’Angelo

Social Security has a special ruling for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

This ruling is a great tool you can use to help your case. It is helpful to keep in mind that this ruling is not a requirement. You do not need to exactly meet everything in this ruling in order to get approved.

# 1 – Establish a Diagnosis 

According to the ruling, certain symptoms would be documented by your doctor for six months or more. Learn more about how to use this ruling to  Establish a Diagnosis of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

# 2 – Demonstrate a Medical Impairment

Social Security will look to see that you have at least one piece of medical evidence. Your evidence could be an abnormal result on a lab test, or outcomes from an assessment test by a specialist, or a medical sign your doctor finds while examining you. Learn how to Collect Medical Evidence for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. If you already have some medical evidence, learn How to Tell If Your Medical Evidence is Good Enough.

# 3 – Demonstrate That Your Illness Keeps You From Functioning

Do not skip this step. I will repeat: Do Not Skip This Step. I am repeating this because so many people skip this step and then wonder why they were not approved. Most of the time, this step is why. Learn How to Prove Functioning.

Sleepy Girl Tips For Using this Ruling

🌸 This ruling uses the term “Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.” I realize this term is riddled with troubles, but I am using it here, and elsewhere on this site, to stay in line with the ruling.

🌸 Personally, if I were applying for disability at this time, I would write the diagnosis “Chronic Fatigue Syndrome” on my application and confirm that this was one of the diagnoses that was listed in my medical records.

🌸 If I had been diagnosed with anything else, I would most certainly include that as well. Many people are approved based on a combination of conditions. A mental health diagnosis can often be a significant help in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome disability applications.

🌸 While reading more about this ruling, it may be helpful to keep in mind that just documenting your symptoms yourself will not be very significant. Social Security would like them to be documented by a doctor and included in your medical records.

🌸 Ideally, your doctor will be an MD or another kind of acceptable medical source.

🌸 A doctor who is knowledgeable about Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is great, but not required. Realistically many people cannot afford, or cannot access, a doctor with special knowledge of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Any doctor who supports you and supports your application can help you.

🌸 If you would like to try to seek out a doctor with special knowledge in this area here are the MEAction list of doctors and Colleen Steckle’s list of doctors

🌸 Please always remember: Your doctors probably will not know about Social Security policies. They don’t teach this stuff in med school! It does not matter if your doctor is a specialist. They don’t teach this to specialists, either. By reading here and learning the policies yourself, you can help your case a great deal.

🌸 Many people with CFS/ME also have Fibromyalgia. If you have fibro, it is recommended to try to see a rheumatologist if at all possible. Here’s a great article about applying for disability for Fibro. And this page includes a link to a good function form for Fibro.

🌸 The Social Security ruling is based on the Center for Disease Control case definition for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. I am not suggesting that this is the best method for diagnosing Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. I am simply printing what is in the Social Security ruling.

🌸 If you are applying for disability, using the criteria from the Social Security ruling could be helpful for your case. If you are interested in other ways of assessing your condition, check out How Colleen Used the ICC to Finally Get a Diagnosis that Fit

🌸 If you would like to learn more about this ruling, here is an excellent article by attorney Ken Casanova that reviews and describes the entire ruling. You can also read the entire ruling in the Social Security Policy Manual. 

2 thoughts on “How to Use the Social Security Ruling for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome”

  1. Great blog! Although I’m in UK there are some really helpful tips here for our system too. I absolutely love the artwork you use too!
    I have followed you here & on social media – would love you to check out my spoonie bits and bobs! Claire x


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