Those who have fibromyalgia are all too familiar with the symptoms, including widespread chronic pain, muscle spasms, stiffness, overwhelming fatigue, sleep problems and difficulty with memory or concentration. They also know all too well how these symptoms can interfere with employment.
Unfortunately, a diagnosis of fibromyalgia doesn't automatically qualify you for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) has a general definition of disability that an individual must meet to qualify for SSDI. Some people with fibromyalgia will qualify, others will not.
To qualify for SSDI, you must prove you have a severe impairment that limits your physical and mental ability to do work. Or, as defined in Social Security regulations, "the inability to do any substantial gainful activity due to your medical or mental problem." The Social Security Administration (SSA) will also consider:
- The combined effect of multiple impairments, which is common for those with fibromyalgia
- Your remaining abilities that are not affected by your condition
- Your age
- Your education and work experience
The first step is to file an application for SSDI. When doing so, be as detailed as possible, including specifics about how fibromyalgia impacts your ability to work. You may also be required to have a medical examination by a SSA-approved provider.
It is common for SSDI applicants with all types of conditions to be initially denied benefits. If this occurs, you have the right to an appeal before a disability judge. At the appeals stage, or any point in the process, your case can benefit from the advice, guidance and advocacy of a Social Security Disability attorney.