A handbook on “How to Apply for Social Security Disability Benefits If You Have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS/CFIDS)” – compiled by Kenneth S. Casanova – is available free from the Massachusetts CFIDS Association website.
“The information in this booklet is invaluable to those with CFIDS who cannot work and are seeking financial stability,” the introduction states. And “Fibromyalgia patients, by looking at this booklet, will also obtain a better grasp of the disability process.” Users may download or print the entire handbook, or selected sections. Those who can afford to do so are given the option of donatIng what they can to keep the booklet available for others.
The handbook is long (92 pages) “because there are so many aspects of the Social Security Disability process.” But it is organized so that you can go selectively to the part or parts that apply to you, depending on what stage you are at in the process. For example, as explained in the section on “How to Use This Book”:
n If you want to know whether you might be eligible to apply for SS Disability, you should start by reading the Introduction.
n If you believe your doctor needs information about how to diagnose CFIDS or FM according to the official diagnostic criteria, and how to document your illness to Social Security and other disability carriers, you can give her/him Appendix I and Appendix II (24 pages of detailed step-by-step guidelines, test checklists, case examples, forms, and other tools).
n Or if you are disabled but want to return to work and need financial help preparing a way to accomplish that, you may want to read about how to develop and submit a Plan for Achieving Self Support (PASS) while on Supplemental Security Income (SSI). This is outlined in Addendum I: “Plans for Achieving Self-Support While Receiving Supplemental Security Income.”
Among the other useful disability-related resources highlighted at the Massachusetts CFIDS Association site are links to:
n Untangling the Web – an exhaustive, award-winning linked listing of disability information on the Web, sponsored by the International Center for Disability Information at West Virginia University at http://www.icdi.wvu.edu/Others.htm. This international resource covers topics ranging from computer technology to employment and career resources.
n Disinissues – (DIS-ability IN-surance ISSUES at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Disinissues/) – a Yahoo discussion group (not a support group) site where patients with “invisible disabilities” such as CFS and FM can “share information and advice about the processes of applying for, appealing, and renewing Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), Supplemental Security Income (SSI), and private long-term disability insurance.”