In the past, patients would have a difficult time requesting disability benefits for fibromyalgia. This is because the Social Security Administration (SSA) doesn't have a dedicated listing for fibromyalgia in its Blue Book of disabling conditions.
Today, the SSA offers more guidance to assist individuals who can no longer work because of fibromyalgia symptoms.
Qualifying for Social Security Disability with Fibromyalgia
In 2012, the SSA published a ruling to determine when fibromyalgia can be classified as a medically determinable impairment (MDI). The ruling relies on disability criteria supplied by the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) to determine whether an applicant may be entitled to Social Security disability benefits.
According to the ruling, a fibromyalgia patient may be considered disabled based on:
- Diagnosis. A fibromyalgia diagnosis must be explicitly stated in the applicant’s medical records in order to be approved for disability related to the condition. Medical records should also show evidence of chronic widespread pain and contain test results that have ruled out other diseases. These include lupus, hypothyroidism, cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, anemia, and multiple sclerosis.
- Symptoms. Patients are required to have medical documentation confirming tender points in at least 11 of 18 specified areas in all quadrants of the body. If they do not, they must have suffered repeated occurrences of six or more fibromyalgia symptoms, such as fatigue, cognitive problems—also referred to as "fibro fog"—sleep disturbances, depression, anxiety, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), or migraine headaches.
- Residual functional capacity. Once the SSA determines eligibility for benefits based on fibromyalgia, the agency performs a residual functional capacity (RFC) assessment for your condition. This indicates if there is any kind of work you can do, your physical and mental restrictions, and other factors that affect your ability to earn a living. Your RFC is based on your medical records, notes from your doctors and specialists, and a statement from you about how your condition affects your daily life.
If your fibromyalgia makes it difficult or impossible for you to support yourself, our attorneys can help you get the benefits you deserve. Call us today or fill out the form on this page to set up your consultation with a Social Security disability attorney.