Do you suffer from persistent, debilitating fatigue? 


Do you write it off as ‘just being tired’, or have you thought there might be something more serious at play? 


You may not have heard of Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME), but it’s more common than you’d think. 240,000 Australians suffer from this disorder, and 25% of people affected are housebound or bedbound. It’s an incredibly debilitating disorder, but unfortunately, there’s little known about the causes of ME and it’s subject to many misconceptions.


Let’s break down these misconceptions and get to how ME and TPD are related.


-What is ME?

ME is a neurological disorder characterised by extreme fatigue. The fatigue generally lasts for at least six months, and it worsens with physical or mental activity. 


Sometimes, the terms ‘Chronic Fatigue Syndrome’ and ‘Myalgic Encephalomyelitis’ are used interchangeably. But according to Australian classifications, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome refers to a range of symptoms and ME refers to a particular neurological disorder. It can be difficult to know exactly what the problem is, so you’ll have to get diagnosed by an expert to clarify if you’re suffering from CFS or ME or something else altogether.


What are the symptoms of ME?

People suffering from ME suffer a range of symptoms, such as: 

  • sleep that isn’t refreshing,
  • difficulties with memory, focus and concentration,
  • fatigue,
  • sore throats,
  • headaches,
  • enlarged lymph nodes in neck or armpits,
  • muscle or joint pain, 
  • dizziness that worsens with moving from lying down or sitting to standing, and
  • exhaustion after physical or mental exercise.


These symptoms overlap with CFS, but the central feature of ME is what’s known as post-exertional malaise (PEM). PEM refers to a long-term worsening of symptoms, triggered by some sort of physical or mental activity. This doesn’t have to be strenuous activity; for some, it may be going for a short walk, brushing teeth or even reading. Generally the more unwell people are, the more difficult it is for their body to everyday manage activities. 


-What causes ME?

Unfortunately, the cause of ME remains largely unknown. Common infectious triggers include Ross River Fever, Q Fever, glandular fever and enteroviruses. Problems with one’s immune system, hormonal imbalances, or physical and mental trauma can also lead to ME.


To date, there is no cure for ME. Treatment focuses on improving symptoms and quality of life. But the good news is that as of March 2019, the Australian Government announced $3 million would be spent on research that better understands the causes and diagnosis of ME. More information is available here.


-What are the common misconceptions surrounding ME? 

Many assume that people suffering from ME are ‘just tired’, and that more rest can improve their condition. 


-Can I claim TPD for ME?

It depends. 


When it comes to TPD claims, you must prove that your injury or illness is so severe that it stops you from returning to work. In other words, you must show that you are ‘totally and permanently disabled’. 


Different insurers will have  varying definitions of ‘totally and permanently disabled.’ Some definitions require that you are unable to return to work within your education, training and experience. Others are assessed on your ability to perform activities of daily living. Some have retraining clauses, and some contain different definitions altogether. So the first step is to check your insurer’s definition of TPD in your super, and know what you have to prove. 


-How can WKB TPD Lawyers help? 

The steps to securing a TPD payout can get complex. At WKB TPD Lawyers we have the experience and care to offer you a solution to your unique set of circumstances. We are happy to discuss if it is worth pursuing a claim, apply for TPD on your behalf, and even review a rejected claim to see if there are any alternatives available. If you are seeking to make a TPD claim based on the information above, contact WKB TPD Lawyers on  1800 865 225.