Seeking disability benefits for fibromyalgia

Post on behalf of Thomas J. Ueberschaer PA on Thursday November 16, 2017

The pain of fibromyalgia is undeniable. Like many who suffer from this mysterious illness, you may have been perfectly healthy, perhaps even athletic. Out of nowhere, the symptoms struck, turning you from an active, energetic person to someone who can barely get out of bed some days.

Naturally, a condition like this makes it difficult, even impossible to carry on with many normal activities. You may need help to prepare meals, do your laundry and clean your house. Despite your desire to keep working and your dependence on your income, continuing with your job is out of the question. However, seeking help from the Social Security Administration is a challenge when it comes to fibromyalgia.

A difficult illness to prove

Because the symptoms of FM are often inconsistent from patient to patient, you may have difficulty making a successful claim for disability benefits from the SSA. As exhausting as the symptoms of FM may be, you will have a better chance at a positive outcome if you build a strong body of evidence supporting your claim of disability. You will need to demonstrate that FM has prevented you from working because of severe symptoms for at least three months. Some documentation may include:

  • A diary of your symptoms, including anxiety, fatigue, depression or migraines
  • A record of how your symptoms restrict your workplace activities, such as sitting or standing, lifting or carrying, or bending or balancing
  • Logs of your tardiness or absences from work because of FM
  • Pain in at least 11 tender points, such as shoulders, neck and knees
  • Evidence of mental impairment, such as difficulty calculating, concentrating or finding the right words

Of course, all of this will support medical records, which may include a diagnosis from a rheumatologist, reports from a psychologist, lab work and other documentation. These details will prove that medical professionals have ruled out other causes of your symptoms.

How can I get financial help if FM is disabling?

As soon as your medical providers diagnose you with disabling fibromyalgia, you can apply for disability benefits through the SSA. When you have submitted your documentation along with your application, a team of doctors will review your case and make a determination about whether you are eligible and, if so, how long your condition will prevent you from working.

There is a good chance the SSA will deny your initial application, and this will mean appealing the decision, usually by providing further documentation. Because the SSA may take up to five months for your case review and decision, it is best to seek a diagnosis quickly and submit your application as soon as possible. Having a Florida attorney to assist you may reduce the chances of denial and improve the likelihood of an effective appeal, if needed.

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