Myalgic Encephalomyelitis, also known as chronic fatigue syndrome or ME/CFS, is a serious, long-term condition with a wide range of symptoms, the most common of which is extreme tiredness. Other symptoms include difficulty recovering after physical activity, waking often at night, and problems with memory or concentration. Some people with ME/CFS may also experience heart palpitations, dizziness, headaches, muscle or joint pain, or flu-like symptoms. In severe cases, people with ME/CFS are extremely limited in their ability to perform activities of daily living. At times, their illness may confine them to bed. These symptoms can vary day by day or even hour by hour and can affect anyone, though it is more common in women.
According to the CDC, an estimated 836,000 to 2.5 million Americans suffer from ME/CFS. However, most of them have not been diagnosed. As the symptoms of ME/CFS are similar to the symptoms of some other illnesses, it’s important to see a medical professional for a correct diagnosis.
Although ME/CFS is not among the listings of impairments for Social Security Administration (SSA), when the diagnosis is supported by appropriate medical signs or laboratory findings, SSA considers it to be a medically determinable impairment under SSR 14-1p. To prevail on a claim for disability benefits, the claimant must prove that their medical impairment prevents them from sustaining work on a regular and continuing basis. For claims based on ME/CFS, the most common argument falls under SSR 96-8p, which defines a “regular and continuing basis” as 8 hours a day, for 5 days a week, or an equivalent work schedule.
If the medical evidence is insufficient to establish disability at the initial determination, additional evidence may be presented at a hearing to support a need for extra breaks that would not be accommodated in a typical work setting. An attorney who specializes in Social Security Disability law can help you acquire and present this evidence.