Fibromyalgia will it be enough to win SSDI?Fibromyalgia is a chronic, debilitating condition. Patients with fibromyalgia complain of tenderness and pain in their soft tissues, muscles, and joints. They also complain that they have difficulty sleeping, headaches, balance issues, stiffness, fatigue, weakness, burning skin, and digestive disorders. Unfortunately, fibromyalgia is not only hard to diagnosis, it is not uncommon for claimants to have conditions and symptoms which come and go. Medical experts are also not sure what causes the condition, but many believe it arises from physical injury, emotional trauma, lifestyle choices, or genetics. So what do you do if you have fibromyalgia? The first step is to get medical treatment which can include physical therapy, exercise, cognitive-behavioral therapy, and medication. It is also important to see a rheumatologist and be sure you have medical evidence to document your condition. Medical evidence can include laboratory tests, doctors notes, and information from anyone who understands how your condition limits your ability to work.
Can I win SSDI benefits for fibromyalgia?To determine whether you are disabled and qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) the SSA will review your health condition and determine if it is severe, if it will last 12 continuous months, and whether you have the ability to work your current job or retrain for new work. Assuming you are not currently working, your condition will last 12 continuous months, you have enough work credits to be insured for SSDI, and your condition is severe, the SSA will determine if they believe your condition is disabling. The Social Security Administration has two methods to make this determination. First, they will determine if your condition meets or exceeds a condition listed on the SSA listing of impairments. If not, they will use the medical vocational allowance process to determine if your condition leaves you with the residual capacity to work.
Fibromyalgia and the SSA Listing of ImpairmentsUnfortunately, there is not a specific listing for fibromyalgia on the SSA Listing of Impairments, but in 2012 the SSA did provide some additional guidelines to claims examiners and judges. Under these new guidelines, the Social Security issued a ruling explaining when fibromyalgia should be found as a medically determinable impairment (MDI). This is good news because the first step to winning benefits is to be able to prove that you have a medical impairment, which means you must have medical evidence, including objective symptoms and lab tests, to prove your condition. What does this mean for you? Although you may be denied benefits for fibromyalgia at the first step in the disability process because your condition may not meet a listing, the new guidelines will help establish the type of evidence the SSA needs to determine whether a person with fibromyalgia has a medically determinable impairment and may be considered disabling. Under the new ruling the SSA is looking for the following:
- A history of widespread pain in all quadrants of the body that lasted for at least three months.
- At least 11 positive tender points on the body.
- Evidence that other disorders that could cause these symptoms or signs were ruled out.