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Applying for disability benefits for fibromyalgia

Many individuals living with fibromyalgia may have difficulty working due to symptoms associated with fibromyalgia such as pain and fatigue, as well as others. A recent survey by the National Pain Report found that 58 percent of those surveyed in their fibromyalgia survey reported they cannot work because of fibromyalgia symptoms. Individuals who are unable to work because they suffer from fibromyalgia may be able to apply and qualify for Social Security disability benefits, however, they may face a challenge getting approved.

It is important when applying for disability benefits to present the strongest case possible in order to receive approval. Applying for SSD benefits based on disability caused by fibromyalgia can be challenging because fibromyalgia can be over-diagnosed by family doctors searching to explain a patient's ongoing pain and symptoms. Applications for conditions that can be more easily established with a diagnostic test may be more easily approved.

Providing strong evidence for disability benefits based on fibromyalgia can include ongoing treatment notes spanning a period of time from a rheumatologist or pain management specialist, a statement that the condition the applicant suffers from meets the definition of fibromyalgia as established by the American College of Rheumatology and evidence that the applicant has completely complied with all medical recommendations and treatment. When an applicant applies for SSD benefits, medical records, work history and statements from the parties are requested.

As is always true when applying for SSD benefits, the applicant initially submits an application which typically takes three to five months to process and the applicant has different appeals options if the initial application is denied. As most initial applications are denied, the applicant initially has 60 days to appeal which is referred to as a request for reconsideration. Additional appeals options are also available including a hearing which is before a judge with more authority and training. Navigating the disability claims process can be challenging which is why it is important for applicants to have as much information as possible when seeking disability benefits.

Source: National Pain Report, "Winning Your Fibromyalgia Social Security Disability Case," Donna Gregory Burch, Aug. 18, 2016

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