Fibromyalgia is a medical condition that causes widespread and chronic pain in the muscles, joints, and other connective tissue. Generally speaking, Fibromyalgia sufferers are considerably more sensitive to pressure on their skin than the general public is. In addition to the pain caused by Fibromyalgia, those who suffer from the condition often complain of joint stiffness, sleep deprivation, fatigue, continence issues, and numbness.
Those with Fibromyalgia often suffer a number of related psychological symptoms, ranging from depression to fibro-fog, a mental condition that affects memory and other cognitive functions. Combined with the pain suffered by people with Fibromyalgia, these symptoms often make it extremely difficult to continue performing meaningful work.
Fibromyalgia does not have its own medical listing in the Social Security Administration’s Blue Book, which means that there are no independent, medically verifiable standards by which the SSA determines whether or not a person qualifies for Social Security Disability benefits due to Fibromyalgia. Because of this, when the SSA considers a case in which Fibromyalgia is one of the disabling conditions, they look at the symptoms to determine whether they can be medically determined to make it impossible for you to continue working.
The exact causes of Fibromyalgia are unknown. It is believed, however, that traumatic events in your life (such as physical or sexual abuse) can trigger the condition. It is also believed by some to be genetic.
Fibromyalgia and Your Ability to Perform Physical Work
Because Fibromyalgia causes you to have pain in several areas of your body and to be overly sensitive to touch, even causing “normal” touch to feel painful, those who suffer from it find it very difficult to perform many kinds of physical work. The degree of limitation can vary considerably from one person to the next, so it is important to ensure that your Social Security Disability claim includes specific information from your doctor regarding what kinds of physical activities you can and cannot do.
Physical activities restricted by Fibromyalgia that the Social Security Administration takes into consideration include: walking, lifting, bending, pushing, and pulling. In some cases, Fibromyalgia may also affect your ability to perform physical work by restricting your ability to perform repetitive movements.
Fibromyalgia and Your Ability to Perform Sedentary Work
Many of the symptoms of Fibromyalgia, especially the psychological side effects, can have a significant impact on your ability to perform sedentary jobs. Sedentary jobs typically require a great deal of concentration or manual dexterity, both of which are impossible for those who suffer from the cognitive effects of Fibromyalgia.
Additionally, the chronic muscle and joint pain can make it difficult either to stand or sit for significant periods of time. For many people, this rules out physical and sedentary work. Other symptoms that can make it very difficult or impossible to perform typical work activities include incontinence, sleep deprivation, and fatigue.
Proving that your particular mix of Fibromyalgia symptoms are severe enough to disqualify you from performing any kind of available work (the standard for qualifying for Social Security Disability benefits) isn’t easy. A Social Security Disability attorney can help you and your health care professionals put your claim together.
The majority of Social Security Disability claims for Fibromyalgia are denied, leaving the claimant the grueling decision of trying to work through disabling pain (usually unsuccessfully) or going through an appeals process which can take months or even years, with no guarantee that the claim will eventually be accepted. Having a Social Security Disability lawyer or advocate help you with your Fibromyalgia disability claim or appeal affords you a much better chance of winning your case than facing the process alone.