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Social Security Disability and fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia is a complex medical problem that is associated with numerous troubling physical symptoms. It’s estimated to affect between 2% and 4% of the population in the United States, with women being affected by the condition roughly two to seven times more often than men.

There’s no official listing for fibromyalgia in the Social Security Administration guide to disabling impairments (the so-called “Blue Book”), but that doesn’t mean it can’t be disabling. It just means that you may have to fight a little harder to get your claim approved.

What are some of the common symptoms of fibromyalgia?

The number one symptom of fibromyalgia is widespread muscular pain, which is usually chronic but prone to “flares” where the pain suddenly increases. In addition, sufferers usually experience some combination of the following symptoms:

  • Fatigue not relieved by rest
  • Sleep disorders, including insomnia
  • Restless leg syndrome
  • Sleep apnea
  • Cognitive difficulties (“brain fog”)

Fibromyalgia often exists alongside other chronic disorders and is associated with irritable bowel syndrome, migraines, anxiety, depression, postural tachycardia syndrome and other problems.

What can you do to increase the odds of getting your disability claim approved?

Ultimately, the hardest part about getting a Social Security Disability claim approved when you have fibromyalgia is that there is very little empirical evidence of the disease or the limitations it causes. There are no lab tests that can confirm the diagnosis and symptoms are largely self-reported.

To bolster your claim, consider these steps:

  • See a specialist for diagnosis and treatment. Social Security tends to give the opinion of a specialist (like a rheumatologist) more weight than that of a general physician.
  • Keep a symptom diary. Make sure that you take it with you to each medical visit and ask your doctor to put it in your records to track your condition.
  • Be open to treatments. Try every treatment you can. That helps indicate to Social Security that your condition is genuinely troublesome.

You can get your Social Security Disability claim for fibromyalgia approved, but it may take a few rounds. If your claim has been denied, it may be time to seek legal assistance.