Fibromyalgia is a fairly common incurable health condition that is still being researched by medical sciences. What causes fibromyalgia is not completely understood, but it is believed to be rooted in complications of an overactive nervous system, an overabundant amount of blood vessels near the skin, and possibly immune system deficiencies. A study in 2013 shed some light on the theory of nerve and blood vessel complications, but more work needs to be done.
What is understood is that the symptoms of fibromyalgia can be persistent and troubling, most often manifesting as chronic pain that cannot be remedied with painkillers and full-body fatigue that does not go away after a good night’s sleep. It is also common for fibromyalgia patients to experience hypersensitivity to touch, numbness in extremities, and joint stiffness.
For many fibromyalgia patients, the symptoms are so consistent and problematic that continuing to work is difficult or seemingly impossible. If you have found yourself in the same situation, then you should know that you might qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits because of your fibromyalgia diagnosis. Every case is different, though, so getting benefits is not guaranteed.
Working with Fibromyalgia Symptoms
For mild or moderate cases of fibromyalgia, the Social Security Administration (SSA) might expect you to work through the pain and fatigue caused by your symptoms. Your employer should also work to accommodate your fibromyalgia symptoms and find ways to reduce their severity throughout the workday. If you work in an office, for example, then a padded ergonomic chair could help with chronic pain symptoms by preventing pain from additional sources. Changing your shifts or work expectations might also help to a noticeable degree.
Seeking Disability Benefits for Fibromyalgia
The challenges that make diagnosing fibromyalgia difficult also make it difficult to get Social Security Disability benefits. The Americans with Disability Act (ADA) sets a general description of what constitutes a disability rather than naming specific illnesses and conditions, so a fibromyalgia diagnosis is not enough to justify a benefits application. Even describing the full symptoms of your condition does not necessarily improve your chances of getting the benefits you need.
There is a rigorous process in place to prove that your fibromyalgia symptoms are actually causing you to experience what the ADA or the SSA would consider a disability. To start, your doctor should conduct a physical examination that records your various disabilities, such as average constant pain rating and whether or not you can move or lift in certain ways due to pain or fatigue. Blood tests should also be ordered to better understand the source of your symptoms and whether or not they are accompanied by another diagnosable disease.
The goal is to establish that your fibromyalgia is causing you to struggle with “any substantial gainful activity” or to experience interference with “basic work-related activities.” The SSA will not approve your claim for benefits if these descriptions cannot be met through a reasonable evaluation of your diagnoses and symptoms. Again, if your pain and fatigue are considered “manageable” with medications and other treatments, then your SSDI benefits application could be denied.
Applying for Fibromyalgia-Based Disability Benefits
Dealing with the Social Security Administration is never considered fun or simple. The complexities and frustrations that can arise will only be worse when concerning a condition as poorly understood as fibromyalgia. It is recommended that you consult with a Social Security Disability attorney before filing an application with the SSA, so you can be certain you are completing the application correctly and that you have the proper evidence to prove your disabilities caused by fibromyalgia.
You should not be surprised if your initial claim is denied, either, as this is the go-to decision from the SSA. But with the assistance of your attorney, you can appeal the denial for further review.
Fibromyalgia patients in Dallas or Fort Worth, Texas can rely on Coats & Todd for honest legal representation and guidance. Our team can evaluate your medical records to help you determine if your symptoms could validate the need for disability benefits, prepare and file your application with the SSA, and challenge any wrongful denials. Contact our fibromyalgia disability lawyers at (888) 898-9189 today.