Getting a CPET Test While Applying for Disability (ME/CFS)


The CPET test is sometimes used by people with Myalgic Encephalomyelitis and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome to help document their impairment while applying for disability. Here is where you can learn about How to Get a CPET (Maybe)

Why Take a CPET?

The CPET test is most commonly used by people applying for private disability or disability through their employer’s insurance. It is often recommended by lawyers who specialize in employment disability cases.

The CPET is sometimes used by people applying for Social Security disability, though most of our readers who were approved for Social Security Disability for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome do not report taking this test.

The CPET is also sometimes taken by people interested in learning more about their health limitations or seeking validation of their physical impairments.

There is a common misconception that a two-day CPET is an “automatic approval” for disability. This is not the case. Results from a CPET test can be extremely helpful in some disability cases. However, a CPET test is not a guaranteed or automatic approval.

CPET & Long Term Disability / Private Disability  

If you are applying for LTD or disability through your employer, many people report that 2-day CPET test results were very significant and helpful in their cases. Some LTD companies request to see the raw data from CPET testing.

Lawyers who specialize in LTD and ME often recommend the 2-day version of the CPET to their clients. Most of our readers who won and kept Long Term Disability report taking this test. 

CPET & Social Security Disability

If you are applying for Social Security, this test may be very helpful, but it is important to keep in mind that Social Security will be considering your entire case file. The decision will not be made based on one test result. It is also important to be aware that most two-day CPETS are not performed or signed by an Acceptable Medical Source.

In some cases, Social Security may chose to disregard CPET test results for this reason. If you can get a letter from your doctor supporting the CPET test results, this will solve this problem. Learn more about how to get a co-sign from your doctor.

If you have a CPET report that is not signed by an Acceptable Medical Source, it can still be a great help to your case, but there is also a chance Social Security will give this report a low priority or little consideration.

There is a way to magically turn your CPET results into evidence from an Acceptable Medical Source: You can ask your doctor if she can write a medical opinion statement supporting or repeating the results of the CPET (if your doctor is already writing a support letter for you, this can just be one paragraph included in the letter). If your doctor agrees with the conclusions of the CPET report, she can simply quote these conclusions in her letter.

If your doctor is completing an RFC form for you, she can also include this test in response to the question that asks for a list of “objective medical evidence”.

One and Two Day CPETS

There are one day and two day CPETS. One day tests are often close and inexpensive. Two day tests may be far away and pricey.

It is unclear whether a one day test will be helpful. The one day tests may not include the type of detailed reports analyzing your functioning limitations. They typically will not include an analysis of ME/CFS and will not be performed by a doctor knowledgable about ME/CFS

One day tests also do not measure Post Exertional Malaise. If you are applying for LTD (disability through your employer), we do not know if a one-day test or a locally-performed test will be as helpful for you.

One day tests may or may not measure the full severity of your condition.

Other Options

💮 What to do if you want to take a one-day test, but the one-day report is not the kind of report needed to help your disability case? Lavender came up with a brilliant solution to this. She got a one-day CPET but then arranged to have a special report written to include all the information needed for disability. Lavender Solves the Problem of the CPET. (Note: This solution may not be strong enough for LTD, which sometimes analyzes CPETS more closely)

💮 Dahlia started with a one day CPET. When that didn’t turn out well, she got a two day one: Dahlia Gets a CPET.

RFC Forms

After getting a CPET, it is very helpful if you can show the report to your doctor and see if your doctor agrees with the test results.

If you are asking your doctor to fill out an RFC form for you, there is a question on the form asking to list medical evidence. This test could be considered really excellent medical evidence if it is supported by your doctor, and having the outcomes of this test listed on your RFC form or in a doctor’s letter could be very helpful.

Thanks for Reading

🌷 This page is part of the free online guide: The Sleepy Girl Guide to Social Security Disability 

🌷 Learn more about this topic here: How to Get a CPET (Maybe)

🌷 Art on this page by Robin Mead and Elizabeth D’Angelo.

🌷 Page Updated: 8/1/19

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