Fibromyalgia is a syndrome that describes symptoms that are characterized by complaints of widespread pain, decreased pain threshold, non-restorative sleep, fatigue, stiffness, mood disturbances, irritable bowel syndrome, and headaches. Fibromyalgia can make it difficult, if not impossible, to do things around your home and work. Here are 8 pieces of advice to win your social security claim based on fibromyalgia.
- Get a diagnosis of fibromyalgia from a rheumatologist: Family doctors are not best equipped to make a fibromyalgia diagnosis. Get a rheumatologist on board.
- Make sure you try all the medications your rheumatologist gives you: You must follow through with the treatment that your rheumatologist gives you. The judges want to see that you’re making a real effort to get better.
- Prepare a diary that explains your symptoms and the side effects of any medication you are taking: Be sure to give examples of how the side effects interfere with your ability to do things on a daily basis.
- Educate your rheumatologist of your symptoms: Common symptoms of fibromyalgia include chronic pain, sleeplessness, bowel irritation, and chronic fatigue,
- Have your rheumatologist fill out a fibromyalgia functional capacity form (RFC): At Ellis & Associates we take a substantial amount of time studying your medical record and creating a checklist form (called a “functional capacity” form) that translates medical findings into work limitations. Common work limitations from fibromyalgia symptoms include:
- Not being able to sleep at night
- Not being able to sit, stand or walk for more than 30-60 minutes without becoming completely exhausted.
- Being severely depressed and/or anxious
- Show you tried to make work attempts: Trying to work and being unsuccessful because of fibromyalgia will boost your credibility.
- Do not ignore other possible explanations: If you have something else going on with fibromyalgia, use that too. A lot of the time there are other autoimmune conditions that may be associated with fibromyalgia such as inflammatory arthritis and gastrointestinal symptoms. If you can, try not to just rely on fibromyalgia.
- Fibromyalgia cases typically work better if you have a long work history: If you have a long work history (such as 15-20 years) and made good money in the past then emphasize that at a hearing. Judges recognize that you would not give that up to wait at home for Social Security.
If in fact you or someone you care for are struggling with fibromyalgia to the point where your/their ability to work has been compromised, contact Ellis & Associates at 1-800-Mr. Ellis for advice as to whether Social Security disability benefits may be an appropriate resource to pursue.