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Does Fibromyalgia qualify you for Social Security Disability benefits?

Fibromyalgia is a condition that results in chronic, widespread pain/tenderness in joints, muscles, tendons or other soft tissues.  Fibromyalgia manifests itself in a number of ways but the most common symptom is chronic widespread pain.  Fibromyalgia's symptoms vary widely from person to person.  There is currently no definitive diagnostic test for Fibroyalgia.  The American College of Rheumatology established criteria to diagnose Fibromylgia, which consists of a patient having widespread pain that lasts for at least three months, and that the pain occurs in 11 out of the 18 tender points in the body.  

In order to determine if your case of Fibromyalgia is severe enough to qualify you for Social Security Disability Benefits a few things must be considered.  First, Fibromyalgia is not provided for in the Social Security Administration's (SSA) Medical Listings.  The Medical Listings are impairments delineated by the SSA which automatically warrant an approval for disability benefits.  Since Fibromyalgia is not a Medical Listing then the claimant must prove that he/she has severe physical or mental limitations that prevent him/her from completing any type of work for a sustained period.  

Second, it is important to know that all Social Security Disability claims are decided on medical evidence and that the burden of proving the impairment rests on the claimant.  Your impairments must be proved with medical evidence (your medical records).  Third, a Residual functional Capacity (RFC) Questionnaire is an important document that should be completed by your treating physician.  An RFC explains the physical limitations you have and how the limitations affect your daily life.  The RFC is considered along with your medical records by the SSA when determining if you are disabled and therefore eligible for benefits.

Lastly, it is ultimately up to the SSA Judge to determine if your condition qualifies you as disabled.  However, the opinions of your treating doctors, along with all relevant medical records documenting your impairments and how the impairments prevent you from working are extremely helpful in winning a disability claim.  It is important to seek treatment for your conditions so that the treating physician can report on your medical status to create an accurate medical record needed for a disability claim.

Sources:  "The Disability Guys' Guide to Fibromyalgia and Federal Social Security Disability Benefits:  What is Fibromyalgia?" and  "Understanding a Social Security Disability Claim" by Scott Daniels, Esquire Markhoff & Mittman.

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