Disability for Fibromyalgia

The Social Security Administration (SSA) maintains listings for impairments that are considered to be disabling for sufferers, but fibromyalgia is not a condition that is represented in SSA listings. People who suffer from fibromyalgia often feel that they cannot possibly work due to chronic pain and fatigue. The fact that so many people have applied for social security disability insurance (SSDI) benefits when suffering from fibromyalgia has prompted the SSA to develop an evaluation method that determines whether a person suffering from the condition should be approved for benefits.

Fibromyalgia and SSDI

People who filed for SSDI benefits because of a fibromyalgia diagnosis did not have much success in the past. The SSA generally denied these applications because there was not much known about the condition. Research related to fibromyalgia and its effect on the body has been done, and more doctors now understand that chronic pain and fatigue are real symptoms experienced by their patients.

Although it has become more likely for a person with fibromyalgia to be approved for SSDI benefits, people who suffer from this condition are generally approved when they are suffering from another ailment that is recognized by the SSA. For example, someone who suffers from both fibromyalgia and arthritis will have a much better chance of being approved for benefits than someone whose only disability is fibromyalgia.

One of the reasons that the SSA is hesitant to approved an application when fibromyalgia is the only disability keeping a person from working is that pain and fatigue are very subjective symptoms. It is hard for the SSA to know whether a person is truly suffering from pain and fatigue severe enough to limit their ability to work. There is no accurate method for measuring these symptoms in a medical environment.

Another reason that the SSA has for denying applications related to fibromyalgia is the fact that some medical professionals use the disorder as a catchall diagnosis. This means that the individual complains about fatigue and pain to their medical provider and receives a diagnosis without seeing a specialist. There may be an underlying condition causing chronic pain and fatigue, but a doctor who cannot find other symptoms to point to a specific condition may take the easy way out by diagnosing fibromyalgia. The good news is that inaccurate fibromyalgia diagnoses are becoming less common.

Assessments that have been developed to address the issue of the subjectivity of fibromyalgia require an applicant to prove that they have widespread, chronic pain that affects regions of the body including the back, neck and chest. These individuals must also show that they have at least 11 tender spots out of the 18 areas that the SSA has identified as being prone to tenderness for fibromyalgia sufferers.

Ongoing symptoms that are associated with fibromyalgia must also be present. These symptoms include bowel problems, sleep disturbances, sleep that is not restful, seizures, dizziness, pain in the stomach, headache, depression and anxiety.

Getting Help With Applying

Applying for SSDI benefits because of a fibromyalgia diagnosis is not always an easy task. The SSA will carefully evaluate an individual’s ailment in order to approve or deny benefits, and it is very common for an application to be denied the first time it is filed. People who suffer from fibromyalgia should contact an attorney for help with their SSDI application. I have ten years of experience in social security cases and appeals, and am ready to fight for your benefits. Contact me today to get started on your case.

Ruth F. Kolb, Esquire has been practicing social security disability law since 2003 handling all levels of representation from initial claims through all stages of appeal.