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Does Fibromyalgia Qualify for Disability Benefits?

On Behalf of | Jan 19, 2022 | Social Security Disability (SSD)

Fibromyalgia is chronic pain disorder that causes millions of people to suffer from intense pain and its incessant presence leaves many suffers to be totally disabled either from the pain itself or from the accompanying mental and emotional depression so much a part of the condition. Yet, because the illness is difficult to “prove,” Fibromyalgia (FM) is not included as a “listed” disability in the Social Security Disability Blue Book.

Can you qualify for Social Security Disability (SSD or SSD) benefits based on Fibromyalgia as your impairment?  Yes.

However, winning approval of SSD benefits in a claim based solely on Fibromyalgia is quite challenging. That challenge can be overcome in some cases where the medical records show a long-term history of treatment, a consistent reported experience, a demonstrated inability to work, and accompanying mental disorders related to extended periods of tolerating intense pain, like severe depression.

Attorney Daniel Berger believes everyone whose physical or mental disability prevents them from earning enough income to support themselves needs an experienced and aggressive legal advocate to fight for the Social Security Disability benefits they deserve. In cases of Fibromyalgia, it’s too easy to find lawyers who claim to be disability lawyers but who won’t fight for a client with Fibromyalgia. Attorney Berger recognizes that Fibromyalgia cases are a little harder to get approved, but that’s the challenge.

If you have Fibromyalgia and you want to apply for Social Security Disability benefits, contact the Daniel Berger Disability Law Office by calling 718-691-7475 or find us at Law Offices of Daniel Berger.

How to Win Social Security Disability Benefits with Fibromyalgia

The precise source of Fibromyalgia has been something of mystery for medical researchers. The existence and severity of the chronic pain disorder are not in doubt, nor is the misery in which so many people live. But because Fibromyalgia can’t be seen in an MRI or CT scan, and no blood test results demonstrate the presence of Fibromyalgia, the Social Security Administration (SSA) has been cautious in accepting Fibromyalgia as a basis on which to approve disability benefits.

How Social Security Defines “Disability”

In the rules and regulations on which Social Security Disability operates, a disability is defined as a “medically determinable physical or mental impairment that lasts or is expected to last for 12 months (or result in death) and which prevents the person from performing substantial gainful activities.” It’s important to remember that the SSA only recognizes total, long-term, or permanent disability. It neither works with nor pays benefits for any temporary disability.

In 2022, to prove the validity of a SSD claim based on Fibromyalgia, the claimant’s condition must be severe enough to keep them from performing enough work to earn $1,350 in a month. While in no way discounting the extent of suffering Fibromyalgia patients live with, many people with the disorder continue to work, some with special accommodations by their employer.

Winning Social Security Disability benefits for Fibromyalgia requires persuasive medical evidence and credible reports of symptoms showing the claimant can’t earn $1,350 due to their impairment(s).

Medical Records and Treatment History

Because of the unfair bias of some people, proving a genuine case of disabling Fibromyalgia requires us to be able to present medical records of long-term, consistent, and repeated complaints of the classic Fibromyalgia symptoms. Those could include the following:

  • Pain and multiple points of tenderness (tender points) throughout the body,
  • Fatigue,
  • Sleep disturbances (not refreshed following substantial sleep periods)
  • Difficulty maintaining concentration (Fibro-fog),
  • Feeling numbness, tingling, or pins-and-needles in arms, hands, legs, and feet,
  • Irritable bowel syndrome,
  • Difficulty or pain urinating,
  • Painful menstrual cramping,
  • Mood disorders (anxiety, depression),
  • Stiffness upon waking up.

The persistent reporting and seeking of treatment of a long period is consistent with a genuine illness and discomfort. But part of a successful campaign to win SSD benefits with Fibromyalgia is the elimination of other possible causes.

Most illnesses and disorders can be detected, identified, and diagnosed by performing blood panels, lab tests, x-rays, MRIs and other diagnostic testing. Fibromyalgia patients would probably prefer one of these diagnoses to more easily be recognized as disabled. But the elimination of other possible sources of your pain and other symptoms is supportive evidence that Fibromyalgia is present, and that your physical and mental impairments are disabling.

Winning Social Security Disability Benefits Based on Other Symptoms?

Since the medical debate rages on about whether Fibromyalgia is or is not an autoimmune disease, it may be productive to concentrate on the subsidiary impairments for SSD benefits. After living with the torment of Fibromyalgia, patients often develop serious persistent mental illness, major depressive disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and others. Any one or a combination of these mental impairments diagnosed by competent, authoritative experts could suffice to support an SSD claim if properly documented. The mental impairment needs to be cited as part of the claim when the benefit application is first submitted; it cannot be added later as an alternative.

Mental impairments in combination with medically recorded physical symptoms often serve as qualifying disabilities in Social Security Disability cases.