The chronic pain and fatigue caused by fibromyalgia makes it difficult to work. An evaluation and treatment plan from a physician who has experience with the illness helps many people manage their condition and continue working.
If you have been diagnosed with fibromyalgia and find that your best efforts at management of its symptoms does not allow you to continue to work, you should consider filing an application to open a fibromyalgia disability case with the Social Security Administration. The majority of initial applications for Social Security disability benefits are denied, so do not be distressed if your claim for Supplemental Security Income or Social Security Disability Insurance is denied at the initial application stage.
A denial after the SSA review of your initial application need not be the end of your claim for benefits. Let a fibromyalgia disability lawyer at NY Disability Law review your claim and medical records to provide options that can help you to win fibromyalgia disability case.
What is fibromyalgia?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention describe fibromyalgia as a condition causing widespread pain, sleep disturbances and fatigue. It has also been known to cause mental and emotional distress in patients. Although its cause remains unknown, medical professionals familiar with the condition find that people afflicted with it are more sensitive to pain than someone who does not have the disorder.
Symptoms that you may experience if you have fibromyalgia include:
- Widespread pain and stiffness.
- Extreme fatigue and tiredness.
- Anxiety, depression and other emotional disorders.
- Sleep disturbance.
- Memory and concentration impairment.
- Headaches and, in some patients, migraines.
- Numbness or tingling in hands and feet.
- Stomach pain, bloating and other forms of digestive distress.
Although physicians do not, as yet, know the cause fibromyalgia, they have associated its development with certain risk factors, including:
- Although it affects patients of all ages, it appears most often in middle-aged and older adults.
- It has been associated with traumatic or stressful events that also have been associated with post-traumatic stress disorder, including car accidents.
- Certain illnesses, such as viral infections, have been associated with development of the disorder.
If you go to a physician with fatigue, widespread pain and other symptoms, your medical history, physical examination, blood tests and X-rays will be relied upon to diagnose whether you have fibromyalgia.
Treatment for the condition
If your doctor determines that you have fibromyalgia, the usual protocol is to use a combination of prescription medication and self-management strategies to control symptoms of the disorder. Some of the self-management strategies include:
- Exercise to improve strength and overall physical condition.
- Development of better sleep habits.
- Yoga, meditation and other stress-management techniques.
- Therapy to address depression and other mental health issues that may be associated with the disorder.
When symptoms are successfully managed, many patients with fibromyalgia can continue to work without being affected by the disorder. For others, the physical and mental impairments caused by fibromyalgia may make it impossible for them to continue working, so opening a fibromyalgia disability case may be the only option available to them for financial assistance and either Medicare or Medicaid coverage.
Proving that you have a medically determinable impairment
Fibromyalgia is not one of the conditions in the listing of impairments the Social Security Administration uses to guide claims examiners in determining whether an applicant has a medically determinable impairment. Instead, the SSA published rules to guide examiners and medical professionals about the criteria to be used to evaluate whether a person has fibromyalgia and whether it qualifies as a medically determinable impairment.
The rules require that you have chronic widespread pain in the neck, back, chest and other areas of the body; and your doctor must have excluded other diseases as the cause of the symptoms. They also require that you have either six or more symptoms or, in the alternative, have at least 11 of 18 tender-point areas distributed over both sides of your body both above and below the waist.
The medical evidence from your medical records is essential to proving your disability case based on fibromyalgia. Steps that you and your fibromyalgia disability lawyer at NY Disability can take to improve your chance of being approved for benefits include:
- Review the medical records to ensure they contain physical examination findings, diagnostic test and blood test results, and other findings from your physician upon which the diagnosis of your condition was based.
- If your physician is not a specialist, request a referral to a physician specializing in the disorder.
- Keep a journal or diary of your symptoms caused by fibromyalgia. Be sure to make notations in it each day and explain how they affect your ability to physically and mental function on a daily basis.
Remember that most claims for Social Security disability benefits are denied, but a strong case supported by the medical records makes a difference in the outcome.
Get help from an experienced fibromyalgia disability lawyer
Don’t take chances with your disability case. Trust in the experience and knowledge of a fibromyalgia disability law firm to handle your application or appeal. Contact Law Offices of Daniel Berger Law for a free consultation about your claim for benefits.