In 2012, Social Security enacted a new rule about fibromyalgia and how they should treat it. SSR 12-2p said that the disability evaluators should be looking for at least eleven out of eighteen possible tender points on the body. People with fibromyalgia have tender points that occur in pairs and are certain points that when pressed on, cause extreme pain. The points themselves can cause pain one day and not the next.
The disability examiners and judges are also looking for a history of widespread pain that cannot be contributed to another cause. While fibromyalgia sufferers may have other conditions like lumbar degenerative disc disease, they should have pain that cannot be traced to any other cause. This can get tricky if the patient has many other conditions that could cause pain.
SSR 12-2p also asks that the disability examiners and judges also look for widespread fatigue. More than anything else, fibromyalgia suffers complain of being exhausted all the time. Fibromyalgia often leads to problems with memory or concentration, often called a "fibro fog". Complaints of bowel problems are also common. Remember, fibromyalgia is diagnosed after everything else that could possibly be wrong has been excluded. Just because someone is in pain and tired does not mean that person has fibromyalgia. It does mean that person needs to see a doctor.
Once you've proven you have fibromyalgia, you still need to prove you are disabled from it. As unpleasant as fibromyalgia is, there are treatments for it and plenty of people with fibromyalgia are able to work and thrive. If a person has fibromyalgia, Social Security checks to see if the fibromyalgia is bad enough to equal a listing. Listings are just what they sound like - a list of medical conditions and if you have that condition and it's severe enough, you get disability. For example if you have epilepsy and you are having more than one grand mal seizure a month, you get disability. So your fibromyalgia still needs to be bad enough to be as severe as one of the listings or be bad enough that you can prove that you cannot perform any job.
To prove you cannot perform any job, you will need the help of your doctor. Your doctor can write you a letter saying that you cannot sit, stand or walk a total of eight hours a day, or that you need to lie down and rest for a portion of each day. You might need to miss more than two days a month. Statements from your doctor are very helpful in the disability process.
The important thing to remember is that fibromyalgia is still difficult to diagnose so make sure you are telling your doctor all of your symptoms and your doctor is writing down all of your symptoms in your medical records. Be particularly careful about documenting your tender points in the medical record.
Remember, there is more research being done on fibromyalgia all the time which means that there will be better treatments available soon. Ask your doctor if there are new treatments you can try. If you have any further questions, please contact The Foster Law Firm at (480)621-7231.