Rainbow at shoreline

The Massachusetts ME/CFS & FM Association, a 501(c)3 founded in 1985, exists to meet the needs of patients with ME (Myalgic Encephalomyelitis), CFS (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome) or FM (Fibromyalgia), their families and loved ones. The Massachusetts ME/CFS & FM Association works to educate health-care providers and the general public regarding these severely-disabling physical illnesses. We also support patients and their families and advocate for more effective treatment and research.

Update on CDC funding for ME/CFS

A month ago, patient advocate Jennifer Spotila discovered that the U.S. Senate was proposing to zero-out the ME/CFS budget at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
 
This discovery launched a wave of emails, letters, and phone calls to key Senate staff from hundreds of people, including representatives of six different ME/CFS organizations. After this coordinated effort, we now know what happened – and we’re hopeful that $5.4 million in CDC funding will be restored for fiscal year 2016.
 
On Aug. 27, Senate Appropriations Committee staffer Chol Pak spoke with Carol Head of the Solve ME/CFS Initiative and Charmian Proskauer of the Massachusetts CFIDS/ME & FM Association. Pak is largely responsible for the CDC’s budget in the Senate.
 
Pak said that back in February when the budget process began, he knew nothing about ME/CFS. The Senate was looking to cut a big chunk from the CDC budget, and they began hunting for places to trim. Pak hears from many patient advocacy groups during the annual budget process, but no one had contacted him about ME/CFS. A small program with no representation on Capitol Hill was a prime candidate for slashing, so Pak and his colleagues zeroed out the proposed $5.4 million ME/CFS fund in the Senate’s proposed CDC budget.
 
Pak is now well-informed about the illness. He read every email sent by ME/CFS advocates, and he responded to many. He understands the importance of continuing to fund the CDC’s “Multisite Clinical Assessment of CFS,” and he now knows that researchers are on the cusp of a breakthrough in understanding ME/CFS. Head and Proskauer left the meeting “cautiously optimistic” that the original $5.4 million in ME/CFS funding passed by the House of Representatives will be restored in the appropriations bill before the budget becomes law.
 
There is no need to send more letters to Senate staff working on the CDC budget. Letters to your Senators and Representatives about the general need for more funding are always helpful.
 
ME/CFS organizations learned a lot from these discussions – namely the importance of a constant presence on Capitol Hill. Pak expressed frustration that he had no information about ME/CFS when the budget process began.
 
Each February, Congress starts work on the next year’s budget, and this is when staffers responsible for the CDC and NIH budgets start meeting with patient advocates. This year, Pak said, he met with over 100 disease groups.
 
The appropriations bill then moves through hearings in the spring, and a final vote before the fiscal year begins Oct. 1. (Note that Congress has not met this deadline for several years, instead operating on a continuing resolution that freezes spending at the previous year’s budget.)
 
What are our next steps? Our organizations are going to continue close contact with House and Senate Appropriations staff responsible for CDC and NIH funding for ME/CFS. The message is simple: If they don’t know about us, they don’t know why they should fund us.
 
Thanks to #MEAction for permission to repost this article. http://www.meaction.net/2015/08/30/cdc-funding-update-the-importance-of-lobbying/

New Medicare payment for chronic care management

Beginning January 1, 2015, Medicare pays separately under the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule CPT code 99490, for non-face-to-face care coordination services furnished to Medicare beneficiaries with multiple chronic conditions. Learn more.

Social Security Disability Benefits--Advice from Attorneys

Disclaimer: The Massachusetts CFIDS/ME & FM Association makes no recommendation regarding the use of professionals whose articles are linked to our site.

Disability Discussion—Social Security disability process is a presentation by Attorney Barbara Comerford to the NJ CFIDS Association (2010). Barbara Comerford, ESQ, has a practice specializing in disability law in the jurisdiction of New York and New Jersey. Through her work, Ms. Comerford has become a specialist in ME/CFS disability and spoke to the issues ME/CFS patients need to know.  She has held a post as a board member of the NJ CFIDS Association, The CFIDS Association of America (CAA), and The American Association of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (AACFS) before it became the International Association of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. 

If I am receiving disability insurance due to a workplace injury, can I also get Social Security Disability and/or Workman's Compensation Insurance?

Increase your odds of winning [Social Security disability]

Obtaining Social Security Disability with CFS by disability attorney Scott Davis, ESQ (2009). Although written before the 2014 Social Security Administration ruling on ME/CFS, this article contains good, general advice.

Social Security Disability Benefits, Fibromyalgia and CFIDS: What you don’t know could be fatal to your claim  by disability attorney Scott Davis, ESQ (2009).

Tips for FM patients applying for Social Security disability Ed Swierczek, a senior claims representative for a company that assists disability claimants, provides some good advice for fibromyalgia patients who are applying for Social Security (2011).

Understanding the [Social Security disability] system

Update for patients with ME/CFS, FM, or Lyme Disease on important issues affecting Long-term Disability Insurance and Social Security Disability A report of a meeting of the Massachusetts CFIDS/ME & FM Association Disability Committee with two Boston disability attorneys in Fall 2014. This article contains important information concerning LTD insurance claims and Social Security disability. **This is a very important article for anyone applying for Social Security benefits, especially if s/he is also applying for LTD benefits.**

What type of information should I bring to my first meeting with an advocate?

Would I need a lawyer or advocate to handle my claim?

 

Notice about names

The Massachusetts ME/CFS & FM Association would like to clarify the use of the various acronyms for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), Chronic Fatigue & Immune Dysfunction Syndrome (CFIDS) and  Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME) on this site. When we generate our own articles on the illness, we will refer to it as ME/CFS, the term now generally used in the United States. When we are reporting on someone else’s report, we will use the term they use. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) and other federal agencies, including the CDC, are currently using ME/CFS. 

Massachusetts ME/CFS & FM Association changed its name in July, 2018, to reflect this consensus.