Disability insurance and Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia is a common and complex disorder, the hallmark of which is widespread pain and tenderness occurring all over the body. Medical researchers believe it increases pain sensations and the processes of pain signals in the brain. Symptoms of fibromyalgia are subjective, and the lack of objective tests for the condition make it questionable altogether; some doctors do not consider fibromyalgia an actual condition. However, some medical professionals believe the struggle for acceptance increases the risk of depression in patients. Recently, fibromyalgia has gained acceptance thus the stigma surrounding the condition is gradually disappearing. Fibromyalgia is associated with trigger points (i.e., areas that are sensitive to pain) in the body; however, they play a negligible part in diagnosis. Usually, doctors will conduct a series of tests to eliminate the possibility of other conditions. Although the cause is not known, causal factors include genetics, infections, and physical/emotional trauma. Symptoms of the condition often occur after surgery, infection, trauma or psychological trauma; however, there are exceptional cases where symptoms accumulate over the years without any triggering event. Symptoms of fibromyalgia include chronic pain which has lasted over three consecutive months, fatigue, headache, trouble sleeping, depression, anxiety,  pain in the lower abdomen, etc. Treatments, like medication and therapy, can help patients live an improved quality of life. 

Qualifying for disability benefits with Fibromyalgia 

The symptoms of fibromyalgia can be disabling making it difficult to work as symptoms get worse over time. However, providing fibromyalgia diagnosis does not guarantee approval of disability benefits from Social Security. Some people can work with fibromyalgia; others cannot. Because the severity of symptoms vary from person to person, proving the severity of your condition is key to winning disability benefits. Social Security does not provide a disability listing for fibromyalgia. To qualify, you will have to prove the severity of your condition, provide documented evidence which rules out the possibility of other conditions, your physician’s report and evidence which shows the impact of symptoms on your functional abilities. Also, you must be experiencing at least 11 of the 18 tender points OR (at least) six of the symptoms of fibromyalgia which includes anxiety, depression, fatigue, brain fog, irritable bowel syndrome, and exhaustion. In 2012, the SSA published a ruling giving guidance to ALJs and disability claims examiners on how to assess cases of fibromyalgia thus, reducing the incidence of claims’ denial. The requirements above serve as evidence that you have a medically determinable impairment (MDI). If your condition is MDI, a disability examiner will assess your medical and nonmedical records to determine if there are jobs you are capable of doing in spite of your disability. Your physical and mental limitations, past work experience, age, and skills will determine the level of exertion you are capable of – medium, light, sedentary or heavy. You will qualify for benefits on a medical vocational allowance basis if there are no jobs you can do. Working with a disability lawyer increases your chances of getting proper documentation and winning benefits.