Some people are confused about how to get the Social Security disability benefits that they need when they have fibromyalgia. There are a lot of symptoms of the condition, and people might not know what documents that they need to qualify for disability benefits. Fibromyalgia is a debilitating condition for many people, and some might be unable to work because of their symptoms. The reality, however, is that the condition isn’t specifically listed in Social Security Administration’s guidelines for receiving benefits. But the SSA has come up with some guidelines on symptoms of fibromyalgia that can be covered, so there are some things that people with fibromyalgia can do to receive benefits from Social Security Disability insurance if the disability claim is documented and filed correctly.
What is Fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia is a condition that affects the soft tissues, muscles, and skeletal structures throughout the body, causing body aches that can be debilitating. It can also affect sleep, mood, and memory. While there isn’t a specific known cause of this medical condition, some researchers believe that it occurs when pain signals are amplified from the way that the brain processes fairly small pain signals. The symptoms sometimes occur after physical trauma, surgery, or severe illness, but they can also occur more slowly over time with no traumatic event.
While doctors don’t know what causes fibromyalgia, they believe that it’s most likely a combination of factors working together. For instance, genetic factors can make certain people more likely to develop the condition, which also means that people with family members who have the condition are more likely to develop it, too. But there are also environmental conditions, such as surgery, infection, injury, and stress, that can trigger symptoms. Researchers also think that it’s likely that repeated stimulation causes changes in the way that the brain processes pain signals.
Women ages 35 to 50 are the most likely group to experience fibromyalgia, but men and people in other age groups can experience this fibromyalgia, too. While there isn’t a specific test that can confirm that a person has this condition, there are several tests that can confirm that the symptoms that the person is experiencing aren’t caused by a different illness. Typically, this condition will be diagnosed by looking at the symptoms and ruling out other possible causes of them.
One of the most common symptoms is unexplained musculoskeletal pain. Other symptoms include fatigue, sleep disturbances, and an inability to concentrate, which is often referred to as fibro fog. Some people might also experience muscle stiffness in conjunction with the musculoskeletal pain, and they might also notice increased sensitivity to smells, light, and temperature. Additionally, because the condition isn’t easily understood and because of the pain, loss of mental clarity, and sleep disturbances, many people with this condition can also experience depression and anxiety.
There are a few conditions that often co-occur with fibromyalgia, including restless leg syndrome, sleep apnea, migraines, irritable bowel syndrome, painful bladder syndrome, and temporomandibular joint disorders. While these are all separate disorders, people should be aware of these separate disorders if they’re experiencing the symptoms of fibromyalgia.
Not only do people with this condition experience widespread pain, but they might also experience tender points at certain parts of the body. Some of the most common places where people with fibromyalgia experience tenderness include around the base of the skull, the front of the neck, chest, knees, buttocks, hips, and elbows. These points of tenderness were once used to diagnose fibromyalgia, but the tender points can actually move. Plus, people with other disorders, such as rheumatoid arthritis and Lyme’s disease, can experience them, so rheumatologists actually look for the presence of widespread pain.
Treatment for Fibromyalgia
While there isn’t a drug that can get rid of this condition, there are some medications that can make the symptoms more bearable. For instance, analgesics, such as aspirin and acetaminophen, can relieve body aches. Antidepressants can also relieve some of the depression that is often associated with this condition. In some cases, anti-seizure drugs will relieve some of the symptoms associated with the condition.
Some people also find relief with certain types of therapy. For instance, physical therapy is sometimes used to lessen some of the musculoskeletal pain associated with the condition and improve strength and stamina so that the patient can do more for longer periods of time.
Occupational therapists can also make suggestions on what types of changes can be made to the work environment to make it more possible for the person with the condition to work more comfortably. For mental health, some people with the condition might also seek counseling to learn how to deal with the emotional trauma associated with fibromyalgia.
There are also some ways that people with fibromyalgia can care for themselves, including meditation and relaxation techniques to lessen stress. Getting enough sleep is also important for people with this condition, and eating well to maintain or achieve a healthy weight can also lessen the symptoms.
Disability Benefits for Fibromyalgia
To gain disability benefits, people with fibromyalgia need to have documentation from their doctors, but they also need to document their symptoms on a daily basis. They should also document any days taken off from work, and their employer will need to help corroborate sick days that are due to fibromyalgia. Documentation of any visits to their mental healthcare provider, tests that they’ve taken, and a confirmed diagnosis from a doctor, are also necessary. The rheumatologist will also be able to put together a list of limitations, which can be integral to receiving benefits. To meet the qualifications for SSDI, a person with fibromyalgia must prove that the condition impairs their ability to physically or mentally perform their job.
Another factor that can affect the likelihood that a person suffering from this condition will be awarded social security disability payment of benefits is if they are also suffering from a related condition, such as arthritis. Because pain and fatigue are subjective and difficult to measure in a clinical way, it’s more difficult for a person with this condition to prove that their pain or fatigue is debilitating. Not only does a person with this condition have to prove that their symptoms limit their physical or mental abilities, but they also have to prove that the limitations that the symptoms create also make it more difficult or impossible to do their job. When putting together a disability claim, collecting medical records is part of the process, but people should also collect documentation of missed work and other activities.
How We Can Help
There are several ways in which the team at Osterhout Berger Disability Law can help you receive the benefit you deserve. We help individuals who need to…
- Apply for Social Security Benefits and want to ensure everything is done right the first time
- Appeal a denial of Social Security Disability Benefits
- Appeal an existing denial of Long Term Disability (LTD) Benefits
If you are facing one of these situations due to Fibromyalgia, please do not hesitate in reaching out. Our team of experienced attorneys are here to help, and your consultation is free.