Fibromyalgia disability claims are difficult to handle, making it hard for applicants to qualify for this type of social security disability. Symptoms associated with fibromyalgia (FM) are usually self-reported and because of this, administrative law judges and disability claims examiners are usually reluctant to approve this type of claim, even when a person receives ongoing treatment from their doctor.
Why FM is so Debilitating for Some
In order to give yourself the best chance of qualifying for disability, it’s crucial that you not only receive treatment, but also find the right type of treatment. The Social Security Administration expect people with this condition to have an official diagnosis and ongoing treatment with a specialist. You must also document your condition as accurately and as thoroughly as possible, using lab test results, relevant medical records, third party statements from family and friends and opinions from your primary doctor and specialist.
Fibromyalgia is also referred to as fibromyalgia syndrome (FM), fibrositis and fibromyositis. This chronic condition is characterized by widespread tenderness and pain in the soft tissues, tendons, joints and muscles. There is no known cause, but many experts believe that it occurs due to a combination of lifestyle, emotional trauma, physical injuries and genetic factors. Symptoms of FM can vary from person to person but usually include tingling or numbness in the feet and hands, migraines, digestive issues, dizziness, fatigue, soreness and pain.
Common psychological and cognitive manifestations often cause anxiety, depression and memory issues.
Treatment for this condition will usually involve ongoing experimentation. Many doctors will prescribe cognitive behavioral therapy, exercise, medication for symptom management and dietary changes.
Presenting your Disability Claim
When presenting your claim, you must show evidence of wide chronic pain that has lasted for a period of at least three months. You must also show copies of x-rays, MRIs, lab tests and any other diagnostic testing that can show your physician has ruled out any other types of possible conditions.
Additionally, you must bring documentation showing a minimum of eighteen tested areas on the body that display positive tender point sites located on both sides of the body and above the waist.
You will also need to have the repeated occurrence of at least four symptoms, especially pain, memory issues, fatigue and depression.
Keep in mind that this type of criteria will only establish whether your condition is classified as an impairment. Even if you are able to satisfy all of these requirements, you will still have to prove that you are unable to perform work duties.
Working with this Autoimmune Disease
Currently, an estimated six million people with fibromyalgia remain in the workforce. Fortunately, there are some on the job coping skills that can help people with this condition to remain healthy and active enough to keep their career on track.
If you have just been diagnosed with this condition, you’ll need to take a lot of notes during your work week in order to determine a pattern. Start by writing down how you’re feeling and what you’re doing every fifteen minutes for an entire work week. By the end of the week you should be able to spot some patterns, such as which activities cause the most discomfort, which days of the week were the most stressful and what time of day your pain is at its worst. This can help you to work on solutions. If you notice increased neck strain caused when working on your computer, try repositioning the monitor.
Reorganizing your workspace can help you to avoid repetitive movements, which often spell trouble for people with fibromyalgia. Assess your work area and determine if any changes could make it more comfortable. If you spend a significant amount of time on the phone, try using a headset to help eliminate shoulder and neck pain. If you spend a lot of time standing, purchase more comfortable shoes and a cushioned floor mat. Even something as basic as moving your desktop items closer to your chair can help to reduce lower and upper back pain caused by overreaching. And be sure to take advantage of an ergonomic consultant if your work provides this type of service.
Based on your findings from your week of note taking, schedule your tasks based on energy highs and lows. If you feel at your best in the morning, make it a point to focus on more pressing or critical tasks at that time. This way you can schedule the easy to do tasks during your lower energy periods. And make sure you always take breaks periodically. Anxiety and increased stress can cause this condition to flare-up, so make sure you set aside enough time to get your job done without having to do any last minutes rushes. People with fibromyalgia are not usually able to foresee when they aren’t going to feel well. Should this happen, do what tasks you’re able to and make changes to your schedule instead of overexerting yourself.
When you have this type of chronic condition, your first impulse will probably be to hide this problem from your coworkers. However, doing so will keep them in the dark regarding why you have frequent medical appointments or why you always seem so tired. They may even begin to think that you’re unreliable or that you’ve basically given up on your work. Instead of concealing your condition, try taking a full disclosure approach. Speak with your coworkers regarding your health issues and explain how it can affect your energy level and productivity. Let them know what they can do to help and how you’re do everything you can to ensure that your condition doesn’t have a negative impact on the quality of your work. Make sure you keep lines of communication open in order to prevent any undeserving and unnecessary resentment.
In more severe cases, you may end up having to switch jobs, based on how your case of fibromyalgia affects you. Fibromyalgia disability assistance is difficult to qualify for, if your condition is mild, but if you can have your employer and coworkers attest to your condition, you may be able to qualify sooner than you think.