Effective April 3, 2014, the Social Security Administration will adopt a new ruling regarding the evaluation of Social Security Disability cases involving chronic fatigue syndrome also known as CFS. (SSR 14-1p) To read the full ruling click here. This ruling replaces the prior ruling on CFS issued in SSR 99-2p.
A Social Security ruling is a decision by the SSA which is supposed to be followed by all disability adjudicators including judges. However, a ruling does not have the same level of authority as statutes, regulations or case law.
The purpose of the new ruling is to clarify how social security develops evidence to establish that a person has a medically determinable impairment (MDI). This new ruling takes into consideration the medical advances and the latest research on the diagnosis and treatment of this condition. The ruling relies on the definition that the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) uses for chronic fatigue syndrome. The ruling states that CFS is characterized as "a syndrome that causes prolonged fatigue lasting 6 months or more, resulting in a substantial reduction in previous levels of occupational. educational, social or personal activities".
SSR 14-1p is very important because it recognizes the existence of a disease that many in the medical community have doubted as a legitimate illness. The fact that the Social Security Administration has issued two rulings regarding CFS reinforces the idea that this disease is real. Unfortunately, other diseases such chronic lyme disease have not been acknowledged by a Social Security ruling. Social Security Disability Lawyers around the country are anxiously waiting to hear whether the SSA will address lyme disease in a future ruling.