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Fibromyalgia: Work and Disability

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Are There Workplace Modification Guidelines for People With Fibromyalgia? continued...

To address depression and anxiety, employers should consider:

  • Reducing distractions in the work environment
  • Providing to-do lists and written instructions
  • Reminding the employee of important deadlines and meetings
  • Allowing time off for counseling
  • Providing clear expectations of responsibilities and consequences
  • Providing sensitivity training to coworkers
  • Allowing breaks to use stress management techniques
  • Developing strategies to deal with work problems before they arise
  • Allowing telephone calls during work hours to doctors and others for support
  • Providing information on counseling and employee assistance programs

To address fatigue and weakness, employers should consider:

  • Reducing or eliminating physical exertion and workplace stress
  • Scheduling periodic rest breaks away from the workstation
  • Allowing a flexible work schedule and flexible use of leave time
  • Allowing the employee to work from home
  • Implementing ergonomic workstation design

To address migraine headaches, employers should consider:

  • Providing task lighting
  • Eliminating fluorescent lighting
  • Providing air purification devices
  • Allowing flexible work hours and work from home
  • Allowing periodic rest breaks

To address issues associated with sleep problems, employers should consider:

  • Allowing flexible work hours and frequent breaks
  • Allowing the employee to work from home

 

Can I Get Disability Because of Fibromyalgia?

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) does not contain a list of medical conditions that constitute disabilities. Instead, the ADA has a general definition of disability that each person must meet. Therefore, some people with fibromyalgia will have a disability under the ADA and others will not.

Because fibromyalgia is difficult to diagnose -- typically, health care providers rule out other conditions through a physical exam and various blood tests  -- it's important that you do your homework before you apply for disability. 

There is a blood test that may help diagnose fibromyalgia. The test -- called FM/a -- identifies markers produced by immune system blood cells in people with fibromyalgia. Because the test is new, insurance may not cover it. Ask your doctor if the FM/a test is right for you. 

According to federal regulations, to qualify for disability you must prove that you have a severe impairment. You also need to prove that the impairment limits your physical or mental ability to do work.

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