Seven years ago, a Toyota worker from Southern California found out that the sudden onset of a strange, scarcely-documented disease was not the only battle he had to fight. Salomaa, a 47-year-old sufferer of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, went to his doctor in 2003 after he noticed unusual fatigue symptoms and diminishing mental function when he returned to his normal job after a bout of the flu. After a long series of doctors and appointments, Salomaa was diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome. There are no official tests that conclusively identify this syndrome. Rather, doctors are almost entirely dependent on a patient’s report of his symptoms in reaching a diagnosis.
Once he was diagnosed, the process of filing for Social Security Disability in 2005 should have been simple, but his claim was denied on the grounds that there was no physical proof that he was unable to work, in spite of his diminished mental residual functional capacity. Two doctors who examined Salomaa even sent letters stating that his was one of the worst cases they had ever documented. Salomaa was forced to take his employer’s insurance plan to district court, but lost because the judge deemed there to be too little conclusive medical evidence and support for his condition. Meanwhile, he was approved for Social Security Disability benefits, a testament to the fact that his medical proof was indeed sufficient. Finally, after a seven-year battle, an appeals court overruled the previous decision and forced Toyota to award the man long-term disability benefits.
Such struggles to receive disability benefits are not uncommon to sufferers of diseases such as chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia and others that doctors still have a lot of questions about and are still largely diagnosed from observance of symptoms. The Social Security Administration is notorious for its difficult requirements and rejection of applicants without sufficient medical proof that their condition is severe enough to keep them from working.
If you are applying for SSDI benefits for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, refer to the Disabling Conditions page on the SSA’s website to view all the categories of impairments and the specific symptoms that must be documented in order for an applicant to be deemed disabled and awarded benefits. Become familiar with the official terminology and the exact requirements. Gather every possible piece of supporting documentation for your Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, be persistent, and as in the case of Salomaa, you will eventually receive the benefits you deserve.