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Fibromyalgia is a potentially debilitating disease that affects over 5 million Americans. It is a musculoskeletal disorder that affects the processing of brain signals, resulting in heightened feelings of pain in addition to issues with sleep, mood, memory and fatigue.

Like many other conditions, fibromyalgia is not yet fully understood by the medical community, but scientists and medical professionals have speculated that fibromyalgia may be caused by infections, genetics and emotional or physical trauma, though they are still uncertain of the exact cause(s) of fibromyalgia at this time. Fibromyalgia has been linked to factors such as repetitive injuries, traumatic events, and prolonged illness. Certain diseases also make it more likely that one will also suffer from fibromyalgia, including rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and spinal arthritis.

This painful condition affects women far more than men. Somewhere between 75 and 90 percent of all individuals with fibromyalgia are women.

Fibromyalgia Symptoms and Treatments

The symptoms of fibromyalgia will vary from one person to the next. You might experience pain throughout your entire body or a consistent subtle ache. Most patients suffering from fibromyalgia are easily fatigued and have difficulty sleeping due to pain. Fibromyalgia often causes difficulties with cognitive function (“fibro fog”), including a lack of focus, concentration and attention, and memory problems. You might also experience additional conditions at the same time, such as joint disorders, depression, anxiety, migraines and irritable bowel syndrome. Many people will not have any symptoms until after a trigger event, such as surgery, psychological stress, infection or physical trauma. Other people will simply experience a more gradual worsening of symptoms over time.

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Currently, fibromyalgia is without a cure; however, it is possible for some people to ease symptoms and pain with a combination of medication, exercise, diet changes, stress reduction, physical therapy, counseling and proper sleep, as directed by their doctor. Effective treatments will vary from person to person, and you will have to work with your doctor to determine the best approach for your needs. Every case is different and some treatments may not be advised in every case. One thing that the majority of people benefit from is self-care. This includes eating right, exercising at a level that is cleared by your doctor, sleeping enough, and eliminating or reducing stress.

Does Fibromyalgia Qualify Me for Disability Benefits?

Fibromyalgia is not specifically discussed in the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) “Blue Book” listing of disabling conditions – but don’t worry. You don’t need to meet a Blue Book listing to qualify for disability benefits. Because, at the end of the day, what the SSA generally cares about most is whether or not your Multiple Chemical Sensitivity meets certain requirements, including:

  • That it rises to the level of a “severe impairment”, meaning it impacts your ability to do work;
  • That it, combined with any other impairments you may have, prevent you from sustaining work;
  • That it has affected you, or is expected to affect you, for at least one year (or to result in death).

If that is the case, then you may very well qualify for monthly disability benefits.

Also, SSA has a Social Security Ruling or “SSR” that discusses their approach to evaluating fibromyalgia cases. You can read SSR 12-2p for more information on how SSA evaluates fibromyalgia.

Because fibromyalgia is not yet well-understood by the medical or legal community, or society at large, it can be an especially challenging condition. It could be a very good idea to work with a Social Security disability advocate who understands the applicable Social Security Rulings, to determine the best way to present your case.

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Next Steps

If you suffer from fibromyalgia and are considering a claim for disability benefits, we recommend you read our articles about the process of applying for SSDI and the way the Social Security Administration uses their Sequential Evaluation Process to determine disability.

This article is presented for general information purposes only. Nothing in this article should be taken as medical advice. Medical decisions (including whether to start, stop, or modify any treatment plan) are extremely important and should always be made with the advice and counsel of a qualified medical professional.

About Citizens Disability, LLC:

Since 2010, Citizens Disability has been America’s premier Social Security Disability institution. Our services include helping people in applying for SSDI benefits, managing the process through Reconsideration, and representing people in person at their Hearing, and if necessary, bringing their case to the Appeals Council. Our mission is to give a voice to the millions of Americans who are disabled and unable to work, helping them receive the Social Security Disability benefits to which they may be entitled. Learn more about us and disability benefits like SSDI & SSI or give us a call (800)492-3260.

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