Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a serious medical condition that affects an estimated one million Americans. CFS can be a disabling condition that prevents you from working.
CFS is not easily diagnosed as there are no objective tests such as blood tests or scans that can detect CFS. The Center for Disease Control has specific criteria for rendering a diagnosis of CFS. That criteria is:
1. The individual has unexplained, persistent fatigue for 6 months or longer that is not due to ongoing exertion, is not substantially relieved by rest, has begun recently (is not lifelong)
2. The fatigue significantly interferes with daily activities and work
3. The individual has had 4 or more of the following 8 symptoms:
• post-exertion malaise lasting more than 24 hours
• unrefreshing sleep
• significant impairment of short-term memory or concentration
• muscle pain
• pain in the joints without swelling or redness
• a sore throat that is frequent or recurring
• tender lymph nodes in the neck or armpit
• headaches of a new type, pattern, or severity
In the past several years, studies emerged suggesting that preliminary studies supported a theory that two viruses known as XMRV and pMLV may be the cause of CFS. Those suffering from CFS were encouraged that the cause of their illness may lead to treatment regimens but a recent study by researchers conclusively determined that these viruses are not connected to CFS. The U.S. National Institutes of Health, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Columbia University and other institutions have now determined that XMRV and pMLV are not the cause of CFS. It is frustrating for those with the condition that the cause of CFS remains a mystery.
If you are experiencing the debilitating symptoms of CFS, and plan on filing for disability insurance benefits, it is important to keep detailed records of your struggles with the disease. Objectify your symptoms and how they impair your ability to work. Additionally, you should seek out a doctor who has specialized experience dealing with CFS patients. Their expertise will further help you establish your disability case to your insurance company. A recent decision by the District Court of Oregon in Ayers v. Life Ins. Co. of N. Am., 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 55814 (D. Or. Apr. 19, 2012) echoes this, as the Court decided that "given the inherent challenges in diagnosing CFS, [the claimant's doctor's] opinion as a specialist is entitled to more deference."
Unfortunately CFS can be a lifelong condition that can severely alter a person's life, but if you are fighting CFS and are unable to work, we at Bonny G. Rafel can help you receive the disability benefits you deserve. That way, you can focus on what's most important, getting well.
-By Alexander C. Schaffel