Can I Go On Disability For Fibromyalgia?

disability allowance
Can I Qualify For Disability Allowance With Fibromyalgia?

Yes, it is possible to go on disability for fibromyalgia but the application process can be lengthy. If a person is considered 'disabled' she has a physical or mental disorder which prevents her from working and the condition is expected to last at least 12 months. However to be eligible for disability payment (called Social Security Disability Insurance, SSDI) you must have worked for at least 5 of the last 10 years and have paid into the SSDI program. It should be noted that simply receiving a fibromyalgia diagnosis is not enough to qualify you for disability. Many women with fibromyalgia symptoms are not disabled, so you will need to prove that your symptoms are so severe that you can't continue working. A doctor's note stating he recommends disability is not enough. Your doctor will need to provide a detailed medical report specifically stating your symptoms and the affect they have on your life. It should note for example, the length of time you can sit, stand or walk. It should note the level of pain, if you suffer depression and how this has interfered with your ability to carry out daily tasks. Ideally, if your symptoms have worsened, your doctor will have noted this in your medical history. For example he may say something like this: 'Patient requires to sit at a desk for her job, she used to be able to do this for several hours without pain, now she can only last 20 minutes'.

So Who Can Qualify?

The SSDI uses the following criteria to make a decision:

1. If you are able to work (even if it's only part-time) and earn more than $1,010 a month as an employee, you are not eligible.

2. Your disability must be severe enough to limit even the most basic work activities like:
• Standing, walking, pushing, pulling, reaching or carrying something.
• Ability to carry out simple instructions (which may not be possible if fibro fog is severe).
• Hearing, speaking or seeing.
• Ability to change a work routine.

3. Unlike other diseases, there is no test that doctors can perform to diagnose fibromyalgia. If there were, it would make seeking disability payments much easier. For that reason, the adjudicator (the person who decides your case) will need specific proof. For example they will want to see evidence of pain in at least 11 of the 18 fibromyalgia tender points for at least the last 3 months. Fatigue (extreme tiredness) also needs to be present. To check your symptoms, take our quiz, what are the symptoms of fibromyalgia?

4. The adjudicator will explore your ability to carry out work which you may have done in the past, even with fibromyalgia. If they find you can still carry out the work, your application will be denied.

5. If you make it this far in the application process, next and finally your age, education and work experience will be assessed. The adjudicator will try to determine if there is any new type of employment you could seek (and be able to perform) instead of your current occupation. Your age is an important factor in this decision.
• If you are under 50: and cannot perform any sedentary work, you will be determined disabled. Sedentary is defined as the inability to sit for 6 hours a day, unable to walk or stand for 2 hours within an 8 hour day and are unable to lift 10 pounds weight.
• If you are aged over 50: and have limited capability to perform sedentary work, but have no work-related skills that will allow you to get a sedentary job, then you will be determined disabled.
• If you are aged over 55: and are limited to performing light work, but have no work-related skills to get that sort of job, you will be determined disabled.
• If you are aged over 60: and are unable to perform any of the jobs you performed in the last 15 years, you will be deemed disabled.

Bottom Line: As you can see, claiming disability can be a lengthy procedure and you may even need to appeal a decision if it goes against you. The national average acceptance rate is 36 percent, that is, 36 percent of people who apply for disability for fibromyalgia get accepted. To improve your chances of being accepted, you may consider hiring a disability representative. These are lawyers or companies that primarily work with SSDI claims. If you use a representative, ask them for their statistical success rate, it really should be higher than the national average to validate their fees. Ideally choose a a firm that is recognized by the Better Business Bureau.

Additional Information and Questions
Read more about fibromyalgia treatment and fibromyalgia medications.
Looking at alternative therapies: Can botox be used to treat fibromyalgia?
Looking at longterm care: Can fibromyalgia be cured?

• Need more information? See: Fibromyalgia Guidelines
• Got another question? See: Womens Health Questions

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