Getting approved for Social Security Disability (SSDI) for fibromyalgia in Atlanta is particularly difficult. In the past, many judges and SSDI adjudicators did not understand fibromyalgia and some did not even believe it existed. Now, fibromyalgia is officially recognized as a legitimate source of disability, but it remains difficult to get any particular case recognized and approved. You may suffer debilitating pain from your fibro and be unable to work, or only work sporadically—and still see your SSDI application denied. If this is you, you need to speak to an Atlanta SSDI lawyer.
Let John Foy & Associates help. For over 20 years we have dedicated our practice to helping the injured, disabled and those suffering from painful conditions like fibromyalgia. We will offer you a completely free, in depth consultation to discuss your Social Security application and help you get approved. Call John Foy & Associates at 404-400-4000 and get your free consultation today.
Does fibromyalgia qualify for SSDI benefits in Atlanta?
Yes. Many people in the fibromyalgia community have experienced disappointing setbacks or had their SSDI applications rejected. However, fibromyalgia is officially recognized as a condition that can cause disability, and we see fibro patients get approved for benefits on a regular basis. If your fibromyalgia prevents you from working, you qualify.
But that doesn’t mean the process is easy. The Social Security Administration (SSA) requires exhaustive paperwork to document not just your fibromyalgia, but also the exact degree of impairment it causes. Every case of fibro is different, and some can be far more severe than others—or cause pain in completely different areas.
Generally, you will need to prove:
- That you have been properly diagnosed with fibromyalgia
- That you have severe pain in multiple areas of the body
- That you cannot work because of your pain
This is difficult because the SSA will not always accept a simple diagnosis as proof. They may question whether you really have fibro or how severe it is.
How can the SSA question my fibromyalgia diagnosis?
Fibromyalgia is unusual because there is no simple test that can prove you have it. It does not show up on an MRI, a blood test or an X-ray. Instead, your doctor has to isolate the type of pain you have and rule out other causes. There are many doctors who misdiagnose patients and say they have fibromyalgia when really they do not. This has led the SSA to be cautious in accepting a fibromyalgia claim.
Generally, the SSA will want to see evidence of long term treatment from a pain management specialist or rheumatologist. The notes from these specialists should support the fibro diagnosis, especially if the diagnosis was made by a general family physician rather than someone who specializes in nerve disorders like fibro.
How does the SSA evaluate my fibromyalgia?
In 2012 the SSA published a ruling known as SSR 12-2p. This ruling was meant to address the wildly inconsistent way in which fibromyalgia cases are evaluated. It also gave SSA staff (and judges) an objective way to measure fibro symptoms.
The ruling is complex, but what it comes down to is requiring that you must have pain in multiple areas of the body, including along the spine. This is determined by applying gentle pressure to a total of 18 specific areas; if 11 or more are painful—and they affect both the left and right side of the body, above and below the waist—your condition can qualify.
You must also have a history of at least six different fibromyalgia symptoms on a recurring basis. Symptoms can include:
- Poor sleep
- Trouble focusing or remembering things
- TMD (temporal-mandibular joint dysfunction)
- Irritable bladder
- Chronic migraine
- Numbness or tingling
- Ringing in the ears
- Chest pain
- Reynaud’s phenomenon
- Change or loss of ability to taste
- Interstitial cysts
- Shortness of breath
Last, other possible causes for these symptoms must be ruled out.
Proving all of this is daunting. In our experience, the majority of fibromyalgia sufferers see their claim denied on the first try. But this often just means you didn’t include the right paperwork. We can help you pull together opinions, medical history and diagnoses that support all of the requirements above.
How do I prove that my fibromyalgia is preventing me from working?
The best way is to get what’s known as a functional capacity evaluation. Your rheumatologist or pain doctor can perform this for you. It simply evaluates your capacity to do different basic tasks including standing, walking and using your hands. It will also evaluate your capacity for mental tasks like focusing, concentrating and working with others. This means conditions like anxiety or depression can be factored in. Doing a functional capacity evaluation is not hard, and we can help you see a doctor who does them on a routine basis.
You are also allowed to submit statements from friends and family. It’s best to have these be as specific as possible. For example, “can’t walk for more than 2 minutes without resting” is better than “can’t walk for long.” Ask your loved ones to use specific measurements wherever possible—how far you can walk, how much you can lift, what specific chores you cannot do at home.
What can I do if my fibromyalgia SSDI claim is turned down in Atlanta?
This is normal. Many, probably most people who request benefits for fibromyalgia are turned down at least once. We understand how this affects your life and your family—and the intense financial pressure it can put on you when you can’t work. But you are allowed to appeal your request, and it’s much more common to succeed on the appeal.
In Atlanta, when you first file an SSDI claim it’s evaluated by a government employee known as an “adjudicator.” If you’re rejected and you appeal within 60 days, it goes back to the adjudicators for re-evaluation. Many fibromyalgia claims get denied on both of these initial tries.
If you appeal again, however, you are given a hearing in front of a judge. The hearings are much more likely to go your way—if you’re properly prepared. We find that judges are much more careful in looking at the evidence, and you can be represented by your lawyer in person at the hearing. This is the best stage at which to turn around your application and get approved.
Talk to an Atlanta Social Security Disability Lawyer for Free
We believe that the SSA is tragically slow in processing the claims of people in need. They also have a terrible habit of turning down applicants based on nothing more than a paperwork error. Don’t allow your claim to be lost in the shuffle. Get a professional working on your behalf. John Foy & Associates will give you a free consultation and help you understand the right next steps to take. We may even be able to take one look at your application and tell you exactly what you need to get approved. Call us at 404-400-4000 or fill out the form to your right and get your FREE consultation today.