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Fibromyalgia Health Center

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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 -- purportedly identifies markers produced by immune system blood cells in people with fibromyalgia. Because the test is new, insurance may not cover it. Also, more research into the accuracy of the test is needed, as the primary study showing its effectiveness was funded by the test's maker.

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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