Fibromyalgia is the most misunderstood, complicated, and controversial condition I have ever run across. On top of dealing with chronic pain, fibro fog, lack of sleep, fatigue, and everything else that fibromyalgia sufferers go through every day, the medical world still refuses to give us our dues. Modern day doctor’s are still stubbornly and inappropriately ignoring our condition and brushing us off. We’ll, FINALLY we can put a notch in the win column for Fibro’s. Recently, the Social Security Administration (SSA) published a ruling that allows for individuals to receive disability benefits (monthly compensation up to $2,642/month + free medical coverage) if they suffer from fibromyalgia so much so that it interferes with the individual’s ability to work a full time job.
Many people suffering from severe Fibromyalgia are unable work a full time job. Personally, I can only sit and type at a computer for so much time before my hands start to burn. Sometimes I’m stuck in such fibro fog that I find myself staring at my computer all morning, not ever really waking up. Unfortunately, these characteristics typically don’t add up to a high paying job. Myself, like many of the Fibromyalgia sufferers I speak with often are only able to hold part time jobs and never really break into a “career”.
Fibromyalgia Now Recognized as an MDI and Disability Benefits are Being Awarded For Severe Cases
After years of denial, fibromyalgia has finally been recognized as an medically determinable impairment (MDI) by the Social Security Administration. Now, those of us who are unable to work a full time job due to fibromyalgia, can be awarded as much as $2,642/month in compensation and receive all their medical needs free of charge. Mild cases of fibromyalgia are typically denied. However, those who suffer from severe fibromyalgia and other complications such as rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease, degenerative joint diseases, and neuropathy have a much better chance of being awarded benefits.
Are You Eligible?
Patients with mild cases of fibromyalgia have little chance of being awarded benefits. Typically people awarded benefits for fibromyalgia also suffer from other severe complications. However, the new ruling sets forth a specific criteria for judges to follow when dealing with fibromyalgia cases. The ruling directs claims examiners and judges to rely on criteria issued by the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) to determine whether an applicant has fibromyalgia, and thus has an MDI. There are two alternatives in ACR criteria that can be used in determining whether you have fibromyalgia; either one will suffice.
The ACR requires the following for a diagnosis of fibromyalgia:
- Evidence of chronic widespread pain, including pain in the back, neck, or chest
- Evidence that shows your doctor ruled out other diseases that could cause the same symptoms (the symptoms of fibromyalgia often overlap with those of lupus,hypothyroidism, and multiple sclerosis), such as lab tests and examination notes, and
One of the following:
- Tender points sites in at least 11 of 18 tender point areas of the body, with tender points occurring on both sides of the body and both above and below the waist. A list of the tender points can be viewed in the SSA’s recent ruling on fibromyalgia. In testing tender points, your doctor should apply the approximate amount of pressure needed to blanch his or her own thumbnail. Or,
- Repeated manifestations of six or more fibromyalgia symptoms, signs, or conditions that often occur with FM, particularly fatigue, non-restorative sleep, cognitive or memory problems (“fibro fog”), depression, anxiety, or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Other possible symptoms include headache, muscle weakness, abdominal pain,Raynaud’s phenomenon, seizures, and dizziness.