Fibromyalgia is a debilitating and mysterious illness that many people in Illinois suffer from. According to the National Institutes of Health, the illness is described as one that causes any number of symptoms including fatigue, sleep problems, muscle pain, tingling or numbness in the feet and hands, cognitive issues and even headaches. No one knows what causes the illness, there is no cure, and it can be difficult for doctors to treat. What is known is that about 5 million people in the United States are diagnosed with it and the majority of sufferers are women.
In many cases, the symptoms are so severe that people are left completely unable to work. When this occurs, they may be able to quality for Social Security Disability benefits, but the evaluation and approval process is a difficult one.
Proving a diagnosis of fibromyalgia
A couple of years ago, the Social Security Administration issued a policy interpretation ruling that establishes the process which evaluators use to determine that an applicant has this health condition, and that the applicant’s condition is a disabling one. The applicant’s doctor must not only diagnose the applicant with fibromyalgia, but also provide information that is in line with the SSA’s criteria relating to diagnosis. This criteria involves the following:
- The existence of at least 11 tender points located in various areas of the body such as near the second rib, the skull’s base, the inside of the knees, the muscles of the shoulder area, inside the arms, at the base of the throat and at the top of the buttocks.
- Medical evidence showing that the symptoms are not due to some other type of health issue or condition
- A history of chronic pain throughout the body for no less than three months. The pain does not have to be constant, but there should be repeated symptoms.
- Repeat history of the other known symptoms of fibromyalgia
If people cannot provide medical evidence showing the above criteria, it could lead to an early dismissal of their application for SSD.
In addition to the doctor’s diagnosis and medical reports, people with fibromyalgia should gather as much evidence as possible to prove their disability claim. This should include statements from co-workers, supervisors, friends and family that describe the applicant’s inability to focus on tasks or their struggles with performing work duties. The applicant should also write down their symptoms and how it affects their daily life as this gives the SSA evaluator a clear picture of the extent of the disability.
Applying for disability benefits can be especially trying for people struggling with fibromyalgia. They should contact an experienced SSD attorney who can help them build a strong case and increase their chances for approval.