Rainbow at shoreline

The Massachusetts CFIDS/ME & FM Association, a 501(c)3 founded in 1985, exists to meet the needs of patients with CFIDS (Chronic Fatigue and Immune Dysfunction Syndrome, also known as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome), ME (Myalgic Encephalomyelitis) or FM (Fibromyalgia), their families and loved ones. The Massachusetts CFIDS/ME & 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.

by Ken Casanova

The following article will provide some answers to basic questions for Massachusetts attorney fee agreements; similar rules and laws may or may not govern fee agreements in other states.

Individuals with disabilities must often seek the assistance of an attorney either to obtain or keep disability benefits to which they are entitled. A fee agreement is a contract between the individual and the attorney in which the attorney sets the fee and other charges for his or her services.

Sometimes, a client will question whether the total amount of money an attorney is asking for is fair or unfair. How can an individual determine if the fee or other charges are reasonable, proper, and legal given the particulars of his or her case?

In some rare instances the client knows that the fee the attorney is asking for is clearly excessive and unfair, sometimes even outrageous. Yet the client may feel desperate: the disability insurance company is wrongly trying to deny or terminate his or her rightful disability benefits, and a knowledgeable lawyer is promising to help obtain or maintain the benefits.

However, the attorney is asking for more money than would, by any stretch of the imagination, be fair for the amount of work that would be done by the attorney. Often finding a disability lawyer is difficult, the client doesn't know where else to turn, and there may be tremendous pressure to make a decision quickly.

So the disabled person can be in a terrible conflict: sign an agreement against his or her better judgment, or perhaps go without help and lose the disability benefits. What should the person do? If he or she has already signed an unfair or excessive agreement, what can be done to terminate the agreement?

Notice about names

The Massachusetts CFIDS/ME & 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) are currently using ME/CFS. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are calling the illness CFS.

Until there is consensus on a name for the illness, the Massachusetts CFIDS/ME & FM Association name will not change.