Can Fibromyalgia get approved for SSDI?

Fibromyalgia, a condition which affects an estimated 4% of the population of the United States, can be very serious. Fibromyalgia can cause tenderness of muscles, tendons and joints. It can also cause difficulty sleeping, chronic fatigue and severe depression.

Recently on our legal forum we had a user ask, "If I am unable to work due to my fibromyalgia will I be approved for Social Security Disability Insurance?"

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Fibromyalgia

Researchers are not sure why but fibromyalgia is most commonly found in women who are between the ages of 35 and 55 years of age. Unfortunately, this time period for some women may be the most critical age for employment.

So what do you do if your condition is so severe you cannot work? The Social Security Administration (SSA) does offer SSDI benefits for workers who have a severe health condition which is expected to last for 12 continuous months and does not allow a claimant to work. The worker, however, must have paid into the SSA system and be insured for SSDI benefits. Workers who are working full-time or who are not insured will not qualify for SSDI benefits.

How does the SSA determine if your fibromyalgia is serious enough that you cannot work? They have two methods for determining disability. First, they will review whether or not your condition is listed in what they call their “Blue Book.” This book contains a list of disabling health conditions and corresponding symptoms which the SSA considers automatically disabling.

Fibromyalgia is not listed in the SSA Bluebook as a condition which is automatically disabling because unlike other conditions such as systemic lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and polymyositis it does not cause accompanying damage to other organs, and there are several good treatment options.

Proving you cannot work through a medical vocational allowance

To win benefits for fibromyalgia a claimant would have to prove they do not have the capacity to work through a process called a medical vocational allowance. Unfortunately, if you are young and can work a sedentary job it will be tough to win benefits through a medical vocational allowance.

In fact, the SSA generally assumes that with proper treatment, medications, and work allowances those with fibromyalgia should be able to do some type of work. The U.S. Department of Labor’s Job Accommodation Network has offered several suggestions for employer work allowances. For instance they suggest "written job instructions when possible, flexible work hours, a self-paced workload, periodic rests to reorient, minimal distractions, reduction of job stress and a reduction of physical exertion."

So will you get SSDI for fibromyalgia? Not unless you can prove you cannot perform any type of job you are suited to perform. Some claimants have won benefits for fibromyalgia when they have had other conditions which eliminated their ability to work.

For instance, your chances to win benefits can be improved if you also have other conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis or degenerative disc disease. In this case you may have luck proving that all of your conditions, in their totality, make it impossible for you to find employment.

(Tags - disability benefits - SSDI - SSI )

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