Living with a chronic, long-term illness is extremely difficult and poses a range of challenges. Many times, suffering from such an illness leaves an individual disabled and unable to earn an income. Social Security disability benefits have been established to provide financial support to individuals with disabilities. Many people seek disability for fibromyalgia, but securing these benefits is often complex and stressful.
At Schaffer & Associates LPA, we work closely with individuals suffering from fibromyalgia, advocating on their behalf until they receive the Social Security disability benefits that they deserve. Securing disability benefits is high stakes, often impacting a person’s livelihood and financial wellbeing. For this reason, we provide high quality legal representation to optimize the chance of success in the Social Security disability application process. To learn more about how we can assist you, consider scheduling a free consultation with an experienced attorney today at (419) 595-4608.
Symptoms and Experiences of Fibromyalgia
Fibromyalgia is a condition that causes widespread pain and tenderness throughout the entire body. As a chronic condition, fibromyalgia is persistent and long-lasting. This condition can be managed but not cured, and symptoms may progress slowly and continue through a person’s life. Some of the most common symptoms of fibromyalgia include:
- Pain in the muscles and bones
- Sleep disturbances
- Difficulty focusing
- Memory lapses
- Rash and itching
- Dry eyes
- Bladder issues
- Anxiety and depression
There are two proven risk factors associated with the onset of fibromyalgia, which include:
- Age. This condition can develop in individuals of all ages, but most cases are diagnosed during middle age. A person is more likely to develop fibromyalgia as they get older, but children are susceptible in rare cases as well.
- Lupus or Rheumatoid Arthritis. People who suffer from these conditions are more likely to develop fibromyalgia.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, fibromyalgia impacts roughly 4 million adults in the United States. Women are twice as likely to suffer from fibromyalgia than men. This condition can be effectively managed using medication and self-management strategies, which can improve pain but may still leave a person unable to perform normal work functions. In these cases, the person may seek disability for fibromyalgia to compensate for the inability to work.
Does Fibromyalgia Qualify for Disability?
Suffering from fibromyalgia does not automatically qualify a person for disability. The Social Security Administration has put in place rules and protocols that often make it difficult to receive benefits for this condition. Being diagnosed with fibromyalgia is not enough to receive Social Security disability benefits. To receive disability benefits for fibromyalgia, it is necessary to prove that the symptoms of the condition prevent the applicant from working.
Overview of the Social Security Listing for Fibromyalgia
The Social Security Ruling 12-2p provides guidance on how the Social Security Administration evaluates fibromyalgia cases. To establish disability for fibromyalgia, an individual must first prove that they have a medically determinable impairment (MDI) of fibromyalgia. If there is sufficient evidence that proves that a person’s fibromyalgia limits their functional ability to perform substantial gainful activity, they may be granted Social Security disability benefits.
To prove this, the Social Security Administration requires evidence from a licensed physician, namely a medical or osteopathic doctor. Diagnosis alone is not enough, however. Documentation that the physician evaluated the individual’s medical history and conducted an examination is necessary. When evaluating these records, the Social Security Administration will review the physician’s medical notes to determine whether the person’s condition has improved, worsened, or remained stable over time.
The Social Security Administration will use one of two criteria to evaluate fibromyalgia cases:
- The 1990 American College of Rheumatology (ACR) Criteria for the Classification of Fibromyalgia
- The 2010 ACR Preliminary Diagnostic Criteria
Proving that a person’s condition is severe enough to obtain benefits for disability for fibromyalgia is quite difficult. An experienced attorney can help you navigate this process and ensure that your application is strong and pursuant to the legal standards set forth by the Social Security Administration.
How to Win a Fibromyalgia Disability Case
To win a fibromyalgia disability case, it is necessary to produce sufficient evidence to prove that a person’s condition prevents them from working. To do this, an applicant must begin compiling evidence as soon as possible. The Social Security Administration will ask for medical records dating back a year or longer prior to the disability claim. This time-frame is essential to proving that the fibromyalgia is considered a medically determinable impairment under the law.
There are other requirements aside from medical documentation. For instance, an applicant must meet the minimum amount of work credits to qualify for benefits due to disability for fibromyalgia. Work credits are earned when a person pays FICA taxes via their paycheck. Typically, between one and four work credits are earned per year, depending on the person’s income level.
To win a fibromyalgia disability case, thorough preparation and strategic presentation is absolutely essential. Unfortunately, the Social Security Administration views fibromyalgia as difficult to prove. For this reason, the more documentation that a person has, the better. Moreover, it is crucial to avoid weaknesses in the application as well as common pitfalls that individuals fall into when applying for disability benefits.
How Can Schaffer & Associates LPA Can Help Secure Disability Benefits for Fibromyalgia?
At Schaffer & Associates LPA, our team of experienced attorneys provide legal representation to secure disability benefits for fibromyalgia. Through our guidance, we organize the strongest application possible for our clients. The majority of Social Security disability applications are denied, making it important to compile and present evidence as carefully as possible to increase your chances of success. This is precisely what we do at Schaffer & Associates LPA. To start the process of securing disability for fibromyalgia, contact our Toledo office at (419) 595-4608 today.