Can People With Fibromyalgia Get Social Security Disability Benefits?

Social Security Disability Benefits

Fibromyalgia is a musculoskeletal disorder characterized by widespread pain along with excessive fatigue and mood, memory and sleep trouble. In the world of science, fibromyalgia is a relatively new disorder, which can make it difficult to diagnose because researchers are still learning about what causes it and why. However, genetics, infections and physical or emotional traumas have all been found as causes. Currently, it’s believed that fibromyalgia affects the way the brain processes pain signaling, which amplifies the uncomfortable sensations.

Women are more likely to suffer from fibromyalgia than men, but it’s a condition that affects both genders. Sufferers often experience temporomandibular (TMJ) joint disorders, tension headaches, anxiety, depression, chronic fatigue syndrome and irritable bowel syndrome, in addition, the widespread pain. There is currently no cure for this condition, but medications, stress reduction, and relaxation have been proven to help alleviate the symptoms.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about five million people suffer from fibromyalgia and the average annual costs associated are $5,945, so Social Security disability (SSD) benefits could be very useful.

Fibromyalgia and SSD

Currently, the Social Security Administration (SSA) doesn’t have a distinct disability listing for fibromyalgia and what criteria is necessary to qualify for Social Security disability. Fortunately, in 2012, Social Security published a ruling that gave guidance for Social Security disability claims in relation to this illness. However, since this is a relatively new condition, hiring a Social Security disability advocate is recommended because there’s a chance that a fibromyalgia claim could be denied after the first attempt.

The ruling bases a diagnosis on criteria from the American College of Rheumatology, which requires:

  • Proof of long-term, widespread pain in the neck, back or chest
  • Evidence that a doctor ruled out other conditions that cause the same symptoms such as lupus, multiple sclerosis, and hypothyroidism.
  • One of the following:
    • Positive associations with 11 of the 18 tender points on both sides of the body above and below the waist
    • Repeated symptoms or signs including memory or cognitive problems (fibro fog), fatigue, non-restorative sleep, anxiety, depression or irritable bowel syndrome.

There are certain steps you can take to help bolster your application for Social Security disability with fibromyalgia:

  1. When you apply for Social Security disability, be sure to have an actual diagnosis of fibromyalgia stated in your medical records. Self-diagnosis will most likely not be considered valid.
  2. After receiving a diagnosis from a primary care doctor, get a specialist referral who can corroborate the diagnosis, especially if it’s a rheumatologist, orthopedist or chronic pain or fatigue specialist.
  3. Avoid getting a diagnosis from a mental health professional. A disability examiner could see a fibromyalgia diagnosis from a psychiatrist as psychosomatic and believe that it’s all in the patient’s head.
  4. Find out exactly what your medical records say so you know exactly what the doctor’s notes report. This will also help determine if the physician shows full support of the diagnosis or if a new doctor necessary.

It’s important to have all possible proof documented that fibromyalgia is a disability to support your claim. This can include missed workdays listed in an employer statement. This is important because, in order for a claim to be considered, the disorder must impair your ability to work. Another source of documentation is a personal fibromyalgia diary to track symptoms, flares and how it affects daily living.

Schedule a Free Review With One of Our Local Disability Advocates

Since it’s difficult to prove your fibromyalgia, we recommend speaking to a disability attorney or advocate about your condition.

This advice is completely free, and the best way to get answers that apply to your specific situation. Click on the button below now, and it will take you to a page for a free benefits evaluation.

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