If you are applying for Social Security disability for fibromyalgia, you may find it difficult to receive an initial approval. This is because Social Security does not have a disability listing for this condition in its Blue Book, a listing of impairments and requirements that are approved for benefits.
However, in an effort to reduce the number of fibromyalgia claimants denied benefits at the initial application phase, the Social Security Administration (SSA) has provided disability claims examiners and administrative law judges a way to analyze fibromyalgia cases.
A Lack of Knowledge
In the past, the outlook for disability approval was poor if an applicants only claim for disability was fibromyalgia. Little weight was usually given to the condition unless another condition, like arthritis, was present as well.
Part of the reason for this is that fibromyalgia symptoms are generally subjective and can vary from person to person. Some common symptoms can include fatigue, widespread pain, joint soreness, tender muscles and dizziness.
Additionally, medical practitioners did not know the cause of fibromyalgia, making it difficult for disability examiners to classify such cases.
New Fibromyalgia Standards
As medical professionals started to better understand fibromyalgia, the SSA developed new standards for assessing the condition.
In 2012, the SSA ruled that fibromyalgia can be a medically determinable impairment if judges and examiners use the American College of Rheumatology's criteria. This requires that applicants have medical evidence of chronic widespread pain in the chest, neck and back that a doctor has ruled are not caused by another disease. The applicant must also have one of the following:
- Repeated flare ups of six or more fibromyalgia symptoms such as memory issues, fatigue, irritable bowel syndrome, anxiety, depression or non-restorative sleep.
- Eleven of 18 tender points that are on both sides of the body below and above the waist.
The claims examiner will look over your medical records and read your doctors notes regarding your condition and any treatments you have tried. Diagnosis by a specialist like a rheumatologist is seen as more credible than a diagnosis from your primary care doctor.
If you are found to be medically impaired by fibromyalgia, you will then be judged on the type of work, if any, you can do before receiving approval for Social Security disability.
If you are having trouble getting Social Security disability for fibromyalgia, contact the experienced team of lawyers at Dayes Law Firm PC today to discuss your legal options.