There are many illnesses and medical conditions that cannot be explained and fibromyalgia is one of them. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that about 5.0 million people in the U.S. suffer from this medical disorder. Symptoms can be so severe that people diagnosed with it are often unable to work and may need to seek disability benefits.
Fibromyalgia is often defined as a medical condition associated with tiredness and body pain. However there are other symptoms that fibromyalgia sufferers can struggle with and these include the following:
- Sleep problems
- Numbness or tingling in feet and hands
- Thinking and memory problems
- Abdominal pain/digestive issues
People diagnosed with this illness may also experience psychological distress as the condition can interfere with every aspect of their life. While more research is needed to understand the illness, it is believed that people with lupus, spinal arthritis or rheumatoid arthritis have a higher risk of developing the disorder. Fibromyalgia may also be connected with previous injury or illnesses, although this has not been fully proven.
Fibromyalgia and disability benefits
There is a lot of confusion over fibromyalgia and Social Security Disability. Many times, applications for coverage under this condition are denied although they are later approved on appeal. This is due to the vagueness of the illness and its unknown causes, but a 2012 ruling issued by the Social Security Administration provides judges and examiners with clear guidelines relating to fibromyalgia. These guidelines establish how the diagnosis of the condition should be verified.
For example, people who have been told that they have fibromyalgia will need to provide proof that other medical conditions such as multiple sclerosis, hypothyroidism and lupus have already been eliminated as the cause of the symptoms. They should be prepared to offer evidence that they suffer from chronic pain and that 11 of the 18 tender points of the body are affected or that they have six or more of the symptoms associated with fibromyalgia on a repeat basis.
Be prepared to appeal
It is estimated that only 37 percent of all claims for Social Security Disability are actually approved. Therefore, people should be prepared to appeal their claim if they have fibromyalgia, given its more complicated status. Applicants need to understand that examiners may be skeptical of a fibromyalgia diagnosis. One way that they can prevent a denial is to gather as much medical evidence as possible as well as other information about their symptoms. This can be obtained through medical records, physician opinions and any therapists they work with. In addition, people may also want to consider meeting with a qualified attorney for guidance.