Brian Vastag

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Brian vastag.png

Brian Vastag is a journalist, previously with the United States The Washington Post, advocate, and person living with ME/CFS.[1]

Career[edit | edit source]

When the National Institutes of Health announced in late 2015 they would be increasing funding for myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS), Francis Collins called a number of advocates including Brian Vastag to break the news.[2]

In 2015 he confirmed his latest project was contributing to a new edition of The Science Writers' Handbook.[3]

In 2012, he was a News Winner of the David Perlman Award for Excellence in Science Journalism for his article, “For Virginia’s fault zone, an event of rare magnitude,” published 23 August 2011 in The Washington Post about an earthquake near Washington,D.C.[4]

ME/CFS disability claim[edit | edit source]

On May 31, 2018, the United States District Court of New Jersey in Brian Vastag v. Prudential Insurance Company of America, Civ. No. 15-6197 (KSH), (CLW), awarded Mr. Vastag both short-term disability (STD) and long-term disability (LTD) noting "the plan administrator improperly denied him STD and LTD benefits payable under the plan".[5]

Evidence[edit | edit source]

Lubet and Tuller explain how Vastag won his claim after health insurer Prudential being wrongly denied him sickness and disability payments when he was forced to stop work:

"Prudential essentially accused Vastag of malingering, declaring that he “stopped working, allegedly due to chronic fatigue syndrome,” and maintained that medical evidence did not support his claim. Most troubling, Prudential revealed that it had attempted surveillance of Vastag but had not managed to observe him...

"Surveillance can be a valid way of exposing false claims in disability or personal injury cases. But the use of surveillance in Vastag’s case — especially given the extensive evidence submitted by national ME/CFS experts — suggests an alarming level of denial about the severity of the illness. There was no evident reason to suspect Vastag of deception other than the diagnosis of ME/CFS.

"U.S. District Judge Katharine Hayden saw through Prudential's smokescreen. Explaining in her decision that “the exact cause of CFS is unknown, and no laboratory test can directly diagnose it,” she noted that “the objective medical evidence … indicates that even low-level physical activity” required more energy than Vastag could generate... Hayden concluded that Prudential had wrongly denied Vastag's benefits due to its “significant failure to understand the current state of medical knowledge about CFS and its devastating impact."

In forceful terms, the judge rejected Prudential's arguments and ordered the company to pay up."[6]

Medical tests[edit | edit source]

Brian was able to prove his post-exertional malaise (PEM) was a severe symptom causing disability with a Two-day cardiopulmonary exercise test (CPET). qEEG and cognitive tests revealed he had "significant problems with visual perception and analysis, scanning speed, attention, visual motor coordination, motor and mental speed, memory, and verbal fluency."[7]

Talks and interviews[edit | edit source]

Online presence[edit | edit source]

See also[edit | edit source]

Learn more[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]