Recently we briefly touched on the five so-called “subjective disorders” that people often have a hard time proving to their insurer in order to start collecting the disability benefits that they need.
One of these disorders that has been getting a fair amount of attention over the last decade or so is fibromyalgia. But just because you have heard a few sound bites in the news does not mean that you really understand how the disease works.
What Is Fibromyalgia and How Can It Be Diagnosed?
The simplest definition of fibromyalgia is that it is a condition that causes people to feel ongoing pain and tenderness throughout their body, and doctors are unable to connect this pain to other medical issues.
Of course, if you’re going qualify for disability benefits, there are a number of more specific criteria that need to be met.
- The chronic, widespread pain you are feeling must be ongoing for at least three months at the same general level of discomfort.
- The pain has to have occurred within the past week.
- You have to feel it in four bodily quadrants.
- Tenderness must be felt in at least 11 of the 18 anatomical “tender points” that have been medically defined.
- You need to be experiencing fatigue.
- You have to wake up feeling unrefreshed.
- You need to have problems remembering things or putting together coherent thoughts.
- Other physical symptoms must exist.
- Your doctor has not been able to identify any specific causes or abnormalities that would explain these symptoms, and therefore cannot provide objective testing or treatment.
Qualifying for Disability with Fibromyalgia
In order to qualify for disability benefits, someone suffering from fibromyalgia needs to provide “Objective Evidence of Disability.” Unfortunately, by its very nature, fibromyalgia eludes objective tests. How then do you prove it?
It’s not easy. A well-documented and extensive medical history showing your struggles with the condition is a must, and you may wish to undergo physical examination and testing to elaborate on your work restrictions as well.
One path that is potentially available is to show that you are not actually suffering from small-fiber polyneuropathy, a condition with symptoms very similar to fibromyalgia that can be diagnosed with objective tests and sometimes even treated.
This condition occurs when peripheral small-fiber neurons degenerate and stop functioning correctly, and your insurer may attempt to fight your claim of fibromyalgia by saying that you actually have SFPN. Testing yourself for this condition first can take the wind out of their sails and further your claim for fibromyalgia.
Want to learn more about qualifying for disability with fibromyalgia? Read our free eBook on disability insurance benefits for an overview, and then contact us to talk to a long term disability lawyer with a track record of success.