How To Win Your Case For Social Security Disability Benefits If You Suffer
From Chronic Fatigue Syndrome or Fibromyalgia
Winning a Social Security Disability
case for someone who suffers from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and/or Fibromyalgia (CFS/FMS) can be very
difficult. However, with proper preparation I am often able to win client's their Social Security Disability
benefits. I approach a Chronic Fatigue Syndrome or Fibromyalgia case using the following five
1) Was the Diagnosis of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome or
Fibromyalgia Made by a Specialist?
I am always very skeptical on my chances of winning when a person comes to me and
is not being treated by a specialist in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and/or Fibromyalgia. I usually prefer to see that
the client is being treated by a Rheumatologist but I have been successful in these type of cases working with an
Infectious Disease Specialist and a Neurologist. I feel that the diagnosis of a primary care or internist is not
sufficient in this type of case. It is also important, of course, for this doctor to be supportive of his/her
patient’s disability case and for me and the client to know this from the beginning of my representation. If a
person calls me and does not have a specialist working with him/her, I suggest that they contact a local support
group for a referral.
2) Has the Client’s Doctor Eliminated Other Diseases
Through Testing Before Diagnosing Him/Her with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and/or
I feel that to provide validity to the diagnosis of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
and/or Fibromyalgia certain medical tests need to be performed so as to rule out other conditions. I usually like
to see blood work done that excludes other Rheumatic diseases which may share symptoms with, or mimic, CFS/FMS. In
cases of Fibromyalgia I look for a physical exam that finds and documents tender points. In Chronic Fatigue
Syndrome cases I also normally like to see that a Tilt Table Test has been done.
3) Are the Client’s Complaints Typical For Someone
Who Suffers With Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and/or Fibromyalgia?
By now I can usually tell by interviewing a prospective client if his/her
complaints are typical. The client’s medical records should show documented symptoms. Without this documentation,
the diagnoses of CFS/FMS may be subject to disbelief by Social Security.
4) Was the Client Treated With Physical Therapy
and/or Pain Medication?
I like to show an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) that my client has tried whatever
treatment is available for his/her condition. Whether this is a series of physical therapy appointments, narcotic
pain medications or even non-traditional treatments like biofeedback or acupuncture. I feel that the severity of my
client’s condition will be supported by the fact that he/she has tried everything to find relief.
5) Has the Client Consulted or Been Treated by a
Psychiatrist or Therapist?
Because I do not want an ALJ to attempt to say that Chronic Fatigue Syndrome or
Fibromyalgia are "mental disorders" I like to show the ALJ that my client is either seeking treatment for
depression or anxiety or has had these conditions ruled out by a mental health specialist and are still suffering
from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and/or Fibromyalgia.
About The Author
Sheri R. Abrams, is an Attorney who practices Social Security Disability Law in
Virginia, DC and Maryland. Ms. Abrams graduated from the George Washington University Law School
and the Boston University School of Management. For more information please see Ms. Abrams's web
site at http://www.sheriabrams.com .