Medically Documenting Disability in ME/CFS Cases


Senior Member

Medically Documenting Disability in Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS) Cases
Barbara B. Comerford1 and Richard Podell2
1 Law Offices of Barbara Comerford, Paramus, NJ, United States
2 Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, New Brunswick, NJ, United States

02 July 2019

Patients with severe myalgic encephalomyelitis/Chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) experience debilitating physical and cognitive symptoms, which often result in the need to file disability claims. A significant number of ME/CFS patients are children or adolescents. ME/CFS patients often turn to physicians who are not trained to recognize and diagnose ME/CFS, and who might or might not understand that ME/CFS is a multi-system primarily physical illness. Such misperceptions can adversely affect the doctor-patient relationship, the clinical outcomes, as well as the results of disability claims. . . .

Medically Documenting a Social Security Disability Claim...
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The ME/CFS claimant must document the total adverse effect the constellation of symptoms has on his/her functional abilities and should provide that documentation in journal form to his treating physician during each visit. No claim can succeed without medical support and documentation of symptoms and functional limitations (physical and cognitive) by informed ME/CFS medical providers. The ME/CFS claimant medical record of functional limitations, and objective documentation of those limitations provided by the treating physician is crucial to support the ME/CFS disability claim.

If keeping a daily journal is not practical, we recommend that the patient or parent at each doctor visit submit 3 or 4 recent real life examples of episodes when the patient did “too much,” how the symptoms then flared and functional abilities declined, and how many hours or days were needed before symptoms and functional abilities regained their pre-exertional baselines. . . .

Comerford BB and Podell R (2019) Medically Documenting Disability in Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS) Cases. Front. Pediatr. 7:231. doi: 10.3389/fped.2019.00231
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Senior Member
East Coast USA
@Wally Thanks for posting this.

Years ago Disability Attorney Barbara Comerford was instrumental in getting "SSR-2P: Policy Interpretation Ruling Titles II AND XVI: Evaluating Cases Involving Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)" approved.

It was updated in 2014 becoming SSR 14-1P.


Improved ME from 2 to 6
Eastern NC USA
the fact of the matter is that 75% of people who have CFS are severely disabled. Only 25% are partially disabled. So don't you love it that the official stance of the agency, that you have to document your disability, is a reversal of what is really happening in the disease?