Fibromyalgia causes widespread pain in the body. When a person’s fibromyalgia symptoms are so severe that they become debilitating and the person can no longer work, it is possible to obtain Social Security disability benefits. However, because fibromyalgia is purely subjective in nature, getting social security disability for fibromyalgia in Raleigh can be difficult.
If you have been diagnosed with fibromyalgia, we encourage you to call a disability attorney in Raleigh at Lunn & Forro, PLLC for help with your case. We can work on gathering the evidence necessary to substantiate your claim or help you appeal a recent denial. Contact us at 888-966-6566 for a free consultation.
Why are fibromyalgia disability claims so challenging to prove?
Fibromyalgia causes a host of symptoms including pain, stiffness, numbness and tingling in the hands and feet, fatigue, memory problems, foggy thinking, and sleep disturbances. All of the effects of the condition are subjective, meaning diagnoses are primarily based on the patient’s input and feedback.
There are only symptoms, no signs. Much like mood disorders or pain disorders, there are no specific medical tests that doctors can administer to validate the condition.
The fact of the matter is that medical evidence is the cornerstone of Social Security disability claims. Lack of sufficient medical evidence is one of the biggest stumbling blocks for claimants with fibromyalgia.
How does the SSA evaluate fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia is not one of the qualifying conditions listed in the SSA Blue Book. However, if the condition limits a person’s ability to engage in substantial gainful activity (SGA), she may still qualify for benefits. To address this particular condition, the Administration published a ruling in 2012 that details how the SSA evaluates fibromyalgia for the purposes of disability claims.
The ruling specifies three detailed requirements the claimant must meet in order for the SSA to consider her fibromyalgia to be a medically determinable impairment that qualifies for disability benefits:
- A history of widespread pain, generally defined as pain in all quadrants of the body for at least three months.
- Repeated manifestations of six or more fibromyalgia symptoms, signs, or co-occurring conditions, including fatigue, cognitive or memory problems, waking unrefreshed, depression, anxiety disorder, or irritable bowel syndrome.
- Evidence that the patient does not have any other disorders that could cause these repeated manifestations of these signs and symptoms.
What other criteria must I meet to qualify?
When making a determination for disability benefits, the SSA will check to see you meet the following basic criteria:
- Your average earnings must not be more than $1,130 a month.
- Your condition has to be such that it interferes with your basic work-related activities.
- Your fibromyalgia must be severe enough to prevent you from engaging in substantial gainful work activity.
- Your condition must interfere with your ability to do the work you did previously.
- Your medical condition, age, education, past work experience, and job skills must be such that you cannot adjust to different work.
In other words, in order to qualify for disability benefits, you must have a severely limiting disability expected to last at least a year that makes you unable to work in any substantial capacity.
How do I prove that I meet the disability criteria?
Because conditions like fibromyalgia that are not easy to see or verify with testing are incredibly challenging to substantiate, you will want to have a lawyer help prove that you are qualified. When you enlist the help of the attorneys at Lunn & Furro, PLLC we will gather as much supportive evidence as possible to prove your disability. Examples of evidence we may use include:
- Medical records that reflect your ongoing medical evaluation and treatments.
- Evidence from other acceptable medical sources, such as psychologists, that details the severity and functional effects of your fibromyalgia.
- Medical evidence of other impairments you may have.
- Input from other resources that can testify about how your condition is affecting your life such as from neighbors, friends, relatives, clergy, past employers, and counselors.
- Your statements about the intensity and persistence of pain or other symptoms and about the effect the symptoms have on your ability to work.
Analyzing this evidence can be difficult, but we have years of experience working with other experts to analyze evidence and use it to make your claim as strong as possible.
What if the SSA denies my disability claim?
It is not uncommon for the SSA to deny claims initially, particularly in challenging cases such as fibromyalgia. If the SSA denies your claim, we can help appeal the decision by asking the Administration for a reconsideration. The SSA provides multiple levels of appeals we can use, if necessary. In preparation for the appeal, we will try to gather and submit new evidence that proves your case.
There is a very short time limit on when you can appeal a claim, though. If you have recently received notification of denial from the SSA, you will want to contact a disability lawyer in Raleigh as soon as possible to get to work on an appeal.
To speak with a Social Security disability attorney that handles fibromyalgia cases, contact Lunn & Forro, PLLC. There is no charge for the consult, and if you should decide to retain us, there will not be any out-of-pocket expenses on your part. We have a “we don’t get paid unless you win” policy. Call us today at 888-966-6566.