Disability and ME/CFS

What to know

Many people with ME/CFS are not able to do their normal activities. This may mean they are unable to work full time. Some may need to work part time. Others may not be able to work at all. Depending on individual circumstances, they may be eligible for disability benefits through the Social Security Administration (SSA). This page provides information about how to apply for disability and how SSA assesses a person's eligibility for benefits.

Government Social Security Building with  column or pillar architecture.

Applying for Disability Benefits

If you have ME/CFS and are unable to work, you can apply for disability benefits through the Social Security Administration (SSA). The SSA policy for evaluating patients with ME/CFS, called SSR14-1p, was last updated in April 2014. To find out more about the policy, visit the SSR 14-1p webpage.

You can learn about who can apply and how to apply on SSA's Apply Online for Disability Benefits webpage. If you decide to apply for disability benefits, your doctor can help you. Healthcare providers can keep good notes and use simple assessment tools to track health status. You can access the policy about ME/CFS on the SSA's page for the ME/CFS-specific policy.

Information for Healthcare Professionals

The SSA has a fact sheet related to ME/CFS for healthcare professionals. The fact sheet provides the definition of disability as it related to ME/CFS. It also describes what SSA needs from doctors when evaluating disability in patients with ME/CFS.

Disability Evaluation Under Social Security

The SSA has prepared an online guide Disability Evaluation Under Social Security (Blue Book - September 2008). It provides physicians and other health professionals with an understanding of how its disability programs are administered.

The guide explains how these programs work and shows how health professionals can provide information to help sound decisions on claims. It also includes links to the "Listing of Impairments" that SSA uses as part of the disability determination process.