Fibromyalgia: Work and Disability
Can I Get Disability Because of Fibromyalgia? continued...
The Social Security disability regulations define disability as "the inability to do any substantial gainful activity due to your medical or mental problem." In addition, according to the Social Security Administration, your condition must interfere with basic work-related activities. If it doesn't, your claim won't be considered. Instead, Social Security will find that you are not disabled.
The combined effect of having multiple impairments is taken into account. That can be important for many people with fibromyalgia. You must be unable to do your previous work or any other substantial gainful activity. Your age and education are considered, as well as your remaining abilities and your work experience.
How Do I Apply for Disability?
To apply for disability benefits, call your Social Security office. Much of the information may be provided over the phone, by mail, or the Internet. You will be asked specific questions about how you have trouble with daily activities. And you will need to be as specific as you can, describing your limitations and why you cannot work. You will be asked to give the names and addresses of your doctors. The Social Security office will contact each one for records.
What Other Proof Must I Provide for Disability?
Describing your fibromyalgia symptoms alone will not qualify you for Social Security disability. You have to be specific about signs and physical findings related to fibromyalgia and pain and how that impacts your ability to work. The Social Security staff will consider all your symptoms, including pain.
All of this information considered together must lead to a conclusion that you are disabled before you will be granted disability with benefits. If more detailed information is needed, you may have to be examined by a doctor approved by the Social Security Administration.
What if I'm not Approved for Disability?
It is common that fibromyalgia patients are not approved for disability, especially with the first application. If you are not approved, you'll have the right to appeal before a judge who specializes in these cases. Some patients with fibromyalgia find it necessary to have the help of an attorney during the appeal process. Although it may increase your costs, the chance your case will be approved is usually better if you have legal counsel.