There is no specific listing for fibromyalgia in the Social Security Administration’s “blue book” of disability listings. Since the condition is not called out by name, many sufferers believe that they do not qualify for disability benefits. That just isn’t the case. Individuals diagnosed with the condition may still be able to qualify for some Social Security benefits, but the road can be difficult and confusing.
Have you been diagnosed with fibromyalgia and can’t continue working? To find out if and for which benefits you may qualify and how you can apply, contact the experienced team at Hankey Law Office for help. We understand the system and know how to help individuals navigate the process to achieve a positive outcome. Don’t let put your financial stability at risk. Contact us today by calling (317) 634-8565 for more information on how we can help you apply for the benefits you are entitled to.
What is Fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia is a condition that causes widespread pain throughout the human body. It can also cause significant fatigue, sleep issues, and emotional distress. Although there is still much about the condition that is unknown, researchers believe that fibromyalgia may amplify pain sensations in the body by affecting the way the brain and central nervous system process pain signals. The Office on Women’s Health acknowledges that more women suffer from the condition than men, although the precise reason is still unclear. In fact, the exact cause of the condition itself remains somewhat of a mystery. Researchers studying the disease believe that a traumatic physical injury, intense emotional distress, repetitive injuries, autoimmune conditions, or nervous system conditions, may all be risk factors for developing the disease. There may also be a genetic predisposition to the condition as well.
The most common symptoms associated with the condition include:
- Widespread physical pain
- Sleep issues
- Cognitive difficulties
- Tingling or numbness in the hands or feet
While not specific symptoms of the disorder, it has been found that patients who suffer from fibromyalgia also tend to have other co-existing conditions. Why these conditions tend to co-exist with one another is unknown. These conditions may include:
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Interstitial cystitis
- Postural tachycardia syndrome
- Chronic fatigue syndrome
- Temporomandibular joint disorder
Diagnosing fibromyalgia can be tricky. Not only does it tend to present with other illnesses such as irritable bowel syndrome and migraines, but it can also mimic the symptoms of other illnesses and conditions like chronic fatigue syndrome and rheumatoid arthritis.
There is no specific test or blood workup that can point directly to fibromyalgia. Instead, it takes time, and other conditions must be eliminated from consideration. Physicians may employ blood tests, x-rays, a physical exam, and medical history to rule out other diseases before making the determination that fibromyalgia is at play. Physicians may also consider these criteria for a fibromyalgia diagnosis established by the American College of Rheumatology:
- Symptoms and pain over the course of the previous week that is based on the total number of areas of the body impacted (out of 19 specified areas of the body)
- The severity of other symptoms such as sleep problems, fatigue, and cognitive issues
- Whether the symptoms have lasted for at least three months or longer
- No other underlying health problem that would explain the presented symptoms
Once a diagnosis has been achieved, a physician can recommend a variety of treatment options. There is currently no cure for the condition, but some medications have been successful in helping to manage the symptoms of the condition. There are also some non-drug therapies that research has shown can help mitigate the symptoms of the illness, including aerobic exercise, yoga, massage, and cognitive behavioral therapy.
Can I Apply for Benefits if I Have Fibromyalgia?
Those diagnosed with fibromyalgia may also suffer other serious complications from the condition. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, those diagnosed with the illness are twice as likely to be hospitalized as other people. Fibromyalgia patients may also experience a drop in their quality of life, an increase in the likelihood they’ll experience depression and anxiety, and higher rates of developing rheumatoid conditions such as arthritis.
These serious complications and the near-constant pain that some patients experience may be enough to prevent an individual from being able to continue in the workforce. When that happens, that individual may be able to apply for Social Security Disability benefits to help them stay afloat financially.
The process for applying for these government benefits is complicated. Fibromyalgia patients have found it extremely difficult to get their claims approved. That is because up until fairly recently, the Social Security Administration did not list fibromyalgia as a covered condition in their “blue book” listings. It was only added in 2012 as a “published ruling” to give an explanation as to how disability claims examiners and judges should evaluate whether fibromyalgia claims could constitute a “medically determinable impairment.” The ruling pointed towards the criteria established by the American College of Rheumatology for determining if a fibromyalgia claim should be considered an MDI.
While this may be seen as a “win” because at least the condition is being considered, the amount of medical paperwork and specific documentation needed to prove that patients with this condition are impaired is massive. Many applicants with the condition find that their claims are quickly rejected.
That is why it is especially important for fibromyalgia patients to get in touch with a skilled and experienced attorney when they begin the process of filing a benefits application. The legal team at Hankey Law Office knows just how difficult it is to secure the necessary medical documentation required to convince a claims examiner that a condition qualifies as a medically determinable impairment. Not only can we help you fill out a benefits application completely and accurately, but we can also help you make sure that you have the required medical documentation to support your claim.
How Can Hankey Law Office Help Me?
Claims examiners aren’t looking at the person behind the illness. They are taking a calculating look at data and documents in order to determine whether an individual receives benefits or receives a rejection notice. At Hankey Law Office, we help people navigate the application process and file a claim with strong supporting documentation that will give them the best opportunity for a positive outcome.
If you have fibromyalgia and need help filing for benefits, call (317) 634-8565 to talk to the experienced team at Hankey Law Office for help.