Social Security Disability and Fibromyalgia
Aches and pains are a general part of life. Stubbing a toe, knocking a funny bone, or knocking one's head into a wall when turning a corner will all cause pain, but that pain will diminish and heal. Those with fibromyalgia experience pain constantly along with other symptoms. Fibromyalgia is listed as a rheumatic disease. According to WebMD, Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition with symptoms of “pain in the muscles, fatigue, sleep problems, and painful tender points or trigger points at certain parts of the body”. Other symptoms include hypersensitivity to cold and/or heat, incontinence, irritable bowl syndrome, difficulty thinking clearly and stiffness. Other common symptoms are depression and anxiety. The Mayo Clinic notes that “fibromyalgia is characterized by additional pain when firm pressure is applied to specific areas of [the] body, called tender points. Tender point locations include: back of the head, between the shoulder blades, top of shoulders, front sides of neck, upper chest, outer elbows, upper hips, sides of hips, and inner knees.” The American College of Rheumatology has determined that sensitivity at these tender points are criteria for fibromyalgia. The ACR has determined that fibromyalgia is not an autoimmune disease, but rather a malfunction of the central nervous system. Women tend to develop fibromyalgia more often than men. And there is no cure. Those with fibromyalgia can experience symptoms to the point where they miss work, which reduces their income, and can even lose their jobs. How is Fibromyalgia Diagnosed? Fibromyalgia has such a variety of symptoms that it can be mistaken for other illnesses. It is considered a syndrome because it is a set of symptoms. And not everyone who has fibromyalgia has the same exact set of symptoms. There is no one test to diagnose fibromyalgia. Doctors take a complete medical history and make a comprehensive physical exam. As WebMD states, “fibromyalgia is mostly a diagnosis of exclusion.” As mentioned above, the ACR has found a set of body points that tend to be painful in those with fibromyalgia. Many doctors use these points to help solidify a diagnosis. How to Get Approved for Social Security Disability if You Have Fibromyalgia The Social Security Administration (SSA) requires complete medical records when submitting an application for Social Security Disability. The SSA spells out medical sources they will accept to prove any diagnosis. One thing to keep in mind is that the SSA doesn't look at specific conditions per se, but at the limitations the condition causes upon the individual. An individual with fibromyalgia must show that the condition has imposed limitations on personal functions, as well as show how long those limitations have been occurring. It is also necessary to list the medications and dosages an individual is taking to deal with the various symptoms, as well as any alternate measures an individual is using to relieve pain or other symptoms. If you are considering applying for disability benefits in Georgia, you should contact our experienced attorney.