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Fibromyalgia

Getting Social Security Benefits for Your Fibromyalgia

Definition

Fibromyalgia is a widespread musculoskeletal pain and fatigue disorder for which the cause is still unknown. Those that suffer from it experience pain in their muscles, ligaments, and tendons (the soft fibrous tissues in the body). Patients with Fibromyalgia say they ache all over, as if their muscles are being pulled or overworked. The pain can be throbbing, shooting or stabbing. Some people experience more stiffness in the morning time, or in muscle groups that are used repetitively. Others with Fibromyalgia say their muscles twitch and/or burn. Additionally, they feel an enormous lack of energy, including brain fatigue and feeling like their arms and legs are tied to concrete blocks. People with this illness have a hard time concentrating, sleeping, and experience irritable bowel syndrome and chronic headaches. These symptoms vary from person to person. Fibromyalgia is more common in women than in men and it shows up in people of all ages. Chronic pain syndrome and the Gulf syndrome overlap with Fibromyalgia. For more information about all the symptoms, see the Fibromyalgia Network www.fmnetnews.com. The information below was obtained from this site.

Symptoms

  • Pain - The pain of FMS has no boundaries. People describe the pain as deep muscular aching, throbbing, shooting, and stabbing. Intense burning may also be present. Quite often, the pain and stiffness are worse in the morning and you may hurt more in muscle groups that are used repetitively.
  • Fatigue - This symptom can be mild in some patients and yet incapacitating in others. The fatigue has been described as "brain fatigue" in which patients feel totally drained of energy. Many patients depict this situation by saying that they feel as though their arms and legs are tied to concrete blocks, and they have difficulty concentrating, e.g., brain fog.
  • Sleep disorder - Most FMS patients have an associated sleep disorder called the alpha-EEG anomaly. This condition was uncovered in a sleep lab with the aid of a machine, which recorded the brain waves of patients during sleep. Researchers found that most FMS patients could fall asleep without much trouble, but their deep level (or stage 4) sleep was constantly interrupted by bursts of awake-like brain activity. Patients appeared to spend the night with one foot in sleep and the other one out of it.
  • Sleep lab tests may not be necessary to determine if you have disturbed sleep. If you wake up feeling as though you've just been run over by a Mack truck - what doctors refer to as unrefreshing sleep - it is reasonable for your physician to assume that you have a sleep disorder. Many FMS patients have been found to have other sleep disorders in addition to the alpha-EEG, such as sleep apnea (as well as the newly discovered form of interrupted breathing called upper airway resistance syndrome, or UARS), bruxism (teeth grinding), periodic limb movement during sleep (jerking of arms and legs), and restless legs syndrome (difficulty sitting still in the evenings).
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome - Constipation, diarrhea, frequent abdominal pain, abdominal gas, and nausea represent symptoms frequently found in roughly 40 to 70% of FMS patients. Acid reflux or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GRED) also occurs with the same high frequency.
  • Chronic headaches - Recurrent migraine or tension-type headaches are seen in about 70% of FMS patients and can pose a major problem in coping for this patient group.
  • Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction Syndrome - This syndrome, sometimes referred to as TMJ or TMD, causes tremendous jaw-related face and head pain in one quarter of FMS patients. However, a 1997 published report indicated that close to 75% of FMS patients have a varying degree of jaw discomfort. Typically, the problems are related to the muscles and ligaments surrounding the jaw joint and not necessarily the joint itself.
  • Other common symptoms - Premenstrual syndrome and painful periods, chest pain, morning stiffness, cognitive or memory impairment, numbness and tingling sensations, muscle twitching, irritable bladder, the feeling of swollen extremities, skin sensitivities, dry eyes and mouth, dizziness, and impaired coordination can occur. Patients are often sensitive to odors, loud noises, bright lights, and sometimes even the medications that they are prescribed.
  • Aggravating factors - Changes in weather, cold or drafty environments, infections, allergies, hormonal fluctuations (premenstrual and menopausal states), stress, depression, anxiety and over-exertion may all contribute to symptom flare-ups.

Social Security Benefits

For a long time, people with Fibromyalgia would not qualify for disability benefits because many medical professionals and decision makers in the Social Security system did not know what this illness was. There is often no medical evidence, like x-rays or blood tests that can prove someone has Fibromyalgia. This makes such cases extremely difficult to prove. Now, more medical research is available on the illness, yet it is still not listed as one of the disabilities that Social Security recognizes. In order to successfully win benefits for a Fibromyalgia case, the claimant's pain or fatigue must be equivalent to some other illness that is recognized by the Social Security Administration. Therefore, it is vital to have a medical or mental health provider document all your symptoms. Also, there are a variety of treatments a doctor can tell you about which can make the pain more manageable.

Social Security Process

Social Security evaluates each person's claim for benefits using the following five steps:

  1. Are you working? If you are working in 2006 and your earnings average more than $860 a month, you generally cannot be considered disabled. If your back injury prevents you from working, we go to Step 2.
  2. Is your condition "severe"? Your back injury interferes with basic work-related activities, you claim will be considered. If it does not, we will find that you are not disabled. If your condition does interfere with basic work-related activities, we go to Step 3.
  3. Is your condition found in the list of disabling conditions? For each of the major body systems, we maintain a list of medical conditions that are so severe they automatically mean that you are disabled. Some back conditions that appear on this list are stenosis, degenerative disc disease, lumbar back pain with positive straight leg raising tests, and nerve root compression. If your back condition is not on the list, we have to decide if it is of equal severity to a medical condition that is on the list. If it is, we will find that you are disabled. If it is not, we then go to Step 4.
  4. Can you do the work you did previously? If your condition is severe but not at the same or equal level of severity as a medical condition on the list, then we must determine if the back pain interferes with your ability to do the work you did previously. If it does not, your claim will be denied. If it does, we proceed to Step 5.
  5. Can you do any other type of work? If you cannot do the work you did in the past, we see if you are able to adjust to other work. We consider your medical conditions and your age, education, past work experience and any transferable skills you may have. If you cannot adjust to other work, your claim

At Disability Group, we understand how hard life can become with a back injury. Our experienced staff will guide you through the process of getting your disability benefits. We understand what medical evidence is required to prove your case and we will work diligently at obtaining, analyzing and preparing your case for a favorable decision. Contact us for a free evaluation of your case, by internet at www.socialsecuritydisabilityhelpcenter.com or by phone at (888) BENEFITS.

Call us at 800-248-1100 or email clientservice@disabilitygroup.com

A professional will help you at all levels of the administrative process to:

  • A representative will work with you and assist you with your initial SSI & SSDI application, with filing your request with Social Security Administration for reconsideration, requesting a hearing before an administrative law judge or filing an appeal with the Appeals council.
  • Analyze your case under Federal Social Security Disability Regulations. Obtain a copy of your file from the Office of hearings & Appeals to ensure that it reflects all your past medical treatment and that all records and documents contained therein are admissible as evidence.
  • Ask that any prior SSI & SSDI applications for benefits be reopened.
  • Protect your right to a fair hearing.
  • Make any necessary Social Security appeals.
  • A representative will work with you and assist you with your initial SSI & SSDI application, with filing your request with Social Security Administration for reconsideration, requesting a hearing before an administrative law judge or filing an appeal with the Appeals council.
  • We are not retained until the contract is countersigned.

Please contact our SSDI lawyers today to schedule your free initial consultation. Jacoby & Meyers has offices nationwide.