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Social Security and fatigue, or other symptoms
May 23, 2000

I often read your Q & A's with interest. I've occasionally noticed that people report an inability to convince the US Social Security Administration that their fatigue or other symptoms are valid. As a former SSA disability Quality Assurance specialist now with AIDS, I thought I'd mention that it is SSA policy that all signs, SYMPTOMS, and laboratory findings due to a medically determinable impairment must be considered. In particular, as a result of several US court decisions, a complete description of impairment-related symptoms and their effect on activities of daily living must be considered in light of the entire evidence. THE BURDEN IS ON SSA TO REFUTE THE CREDIBILITY OF A CLAIMANT'S STATEMENT ABOUT HIS/HER SYMPTOMS, including fatigue, and the denial rationale is to be specific about the reasoning behind the decision. It has been a challenge to obtain full compliance with this policy by the state agencies who are under contract with the federal SSA in making disability decisions. However, anyone who has legitimate symptomatic complaints which prevent them from performing work-like activities should know this, and if their claim is denied, should demand that their denial letter explain EXACTLY why SSA is refuting their statements. It is also important that they give their treating sources a good description of their symptoms, since many physicians do not seem to record in detail what patients tell them about how symptoms affect their ability to perform activities of daily living, and a lack of such information in the medical record is sometimes viewed as a reason for not believing the claimant. Obviously, many symptoms, such as fatigue, are difficult to quantify. Thank you for providing this important service.

Response from Dr. Frascino

Thank you for your comments. I'll share the information with our readers.

RJF


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