Can I Qualify for Federal Disability with Fibromyalgia?

Statistics provided by the Social Security Administration show that developing disability during adulthood is not particularly uncommon. In fact, a worker who is currently 20 years old has a one in four chance of developing a medical condition or physical or mental impairment that will prevent them from working. Faced with the prevalence of disability and the costs severe injury can impose on hard-working Arkansans and Americans, the federal government has developed several programs to provide cash assistance and other benefits to disabled individuals. Social Security Disability (SSDI or SSD) is one of these programs. It can provide cash benefits to hard working Arkansans who develop a serious disability, like fibromyalgia, and can no longer work.

Sufferers of conditions like fibromyalgia may wonder if they can obtain benefits from the federal government. Whether you can obtain benefits is ultimately a function of the type of condition you have and the severity of that condition, but working with an experienced disability attorney can help you present your case in a straight-forward manner that is responsive to the types of things claims. Ken Kieklak is an experienced Fayetteville, AR disability lawyer who has fought for injured Arkansans for more than 20 years.

What is Fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia, sometimes abbreviated as FM, is a common musculoskeletal condition that affects joints and can cause a sense of fatigue. FM is the second most common musculoskeletal condition besides osteoarthritis. Depending on the severity of the condition, pain can be extremely widespread and can affect an individual’s muscles as well as their joints. In some circumstances a moderate to severe FM condition can also lead to the development of social isolation, anxiety and depression.

Both men and woman can develop FM. However, women are much more likely to develop this condition carrying a risk that is ten times that of a man. The most accurate way to determine if you have an FM condition is to undergo a comprehensive physical exam that includes a blood test. The test is known as FM/a and it will reveal whether immune system markers associated with the disease are present. Other tests that may be utilized to rule out the presence of other conditions include a complete blood count (CBC), a thyroid test, tests for vitamin D levels, and Lyme disease titers.

How will Social Security Handle a Fibromyalgia claim?

In July 2012, The Social Security Administration announced SSR 12-2p which addresses how the agency will handle disability claims. The SSR recognizes that FM is no longer considered something of a “catch-all” diagnosis. Rather, the condition is a medically defined impairment with its own objective criteria for diagnosis. FM can be considered an MDI when:

  • There is a documented history of widespread pain.
  • There are a minimum of 11 tender points on the body.
  • Other conditions that could produce the signs and symptoms present have been ruled out through objective medical testing.

Essentially, this ruling sets forth that FM is, indeed, a medically determinable impairment (MDI). By declaring FM an MDI the SSA has essentially permitted the condition standing on its own to proceed to the 5 step sequential evaluation process utilized in disability determinations.

If FM is diagnosed as per the objective criteria set forth in the SSR, the claim will be analyzed. Generally as a MDI, the condition will proceed through step 1 without issues. At step 2, the impairment will be analyzed to determine whether its effects are severe. At the third step, an individual with only a FM condition cannot win disability benefits because FM is not a listed condition. However they may be able to show that FM is medically or functionally equal to a listed condition. At Steps 4 and 5, considerations of the individual’s past work and whether there is alternate work available for them to perform are likely the chief considerations.

Rely on our experience to handle your SSD claim

As you can probably already tell, proving a disability claim is a complex process that requires a significant amount of documented medical proof to prove the condition. Furthermore reports from those familiar with your daily activities and limitations can be essential to show the extent and severity of your condition or impairment. These reports often come from caregivers, friends, family members or clergy.

Ken Kieklak has fought for injured Arkansans for more than 20 years. He understands the system and he understands the pain and frustration you are going through. To schedule a free SSD consultation call Ken at (479) 316-0438 today or contact us online.