Fibromyalgia and Social Security Disability

Fibromyalgia is a medical condition which causes chronic widespread pain and a heightened and painful response to pressure. It may include some or all of the following symptoms:

  • Chronic widespread pain
  • Fatigue
  • Sleep difficulties
  • Brain fog
  • Morning stiffness
  • Muscle knots, cramping, weakness
  • Digestive disorders
  • Headaches/migraines
  • Balance problems
  • Itchy/ burning skin

 

The difficulty with this disorder is the diagnosis since there is no single objective test for fibromyalgia.  There is a way to diagnose it, however.  According to the College of Rheumatology (http://www.rheumatology.org/Practice/Clinical/Patients/Diseases_And_Conditions/Fibromyalgia/ the diagnosis can be made the following way:

Criteria Needed for a Fibromyalgia Diagnosis
1. Pain and symptoms over the past week, based on the total of: Number of painful areas out of 18 parts of the body Plus level of severity of these symptoms:

  • Fatigue
  • Waking unrefreshed
  • Cognitive (memory or thought) problems
  • Plus number of other general physical symptoms
2. Symptoms lasting at least three months at a similar level
3. No other health problem that would explain the pain and other symptoms

Many of my clients simply see their primary physician to treat their fibromyalgia, but I encourage them to see a rheumatologist to add credibility to their cases.   A rheumatologist may be more familiar with this condition then a primary physician.  The Social Security Administration relies on medical records to make their decisions so the rheumatologist medical records in addition to your primary physician records can only help strengthen your case.  It may be helpful to keep a journal.  It’s important to show how your fibromyalgia limits your daily activities and your ability to work a full-time job.  It’s also important to get all of your symptoms noted in your medical records as not all cases are the same.  I know many people that work with this condition, but I have many clients whom simply cannot begin to work with all of their symptoms and pain.  Some people get reliefs from medications, but others only get a temporary respite.  You need to show the Social Security Administration that your symptoms affect your ability to work a full-time, 40 hours per week job and that medication doesn’t alleviate the symptoms enough so that you can work.

You can also prove your case by meeting a listing.  This is a new development as of 2012.  You can see the listing here: https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2012/07/25/2012-17936/social-security-ruling-ssr-12-2p-titles-ii-and-xvi-evaluation-of-fibromyalgia#p-3

Please remember that this is just general information, and everyone’s situation is unique. This article should not be considered legal advice.