John L. Keefe
Many people don’t realize fibromyalgia is a real disability that directly affects one’s ability to function and engage in life activities. Social Security Administration (SSA) case workers are no exception. Historically, it has been very difficult for those diagnosed with fibromyalgia to gain approval for Social Security disability benefits (SSDI).
However, fibromyalgia is a real medical condition. The SSA recently has added fibromyalgia as a Medically Determinable Impairment (MDI). This doesn’t mean approval is automatic. You must meet all of the conditions outlined by the SSA in order to receive benefits. These tips from our Boston disability benefits lawyers can help.
Tip 1: Get a copy of your medical records.
Your Social Security disability determination will be based primarily on your medical records. You should know what those records say. Make sure your records list your symptoms, your treatment plan, and your diagnosis. If your medical records don’t support your claim, you may want to see another doctor.
Tip 2: Make sure you have a medical diagnosis of fibromyalgia.
Did your doctor diagnose you with fibromyalgia, or did he simply say, “Your symptoms could be caused by fibromyalgia”? This is an important distinction. To receive SSDI benefits for fibromyalgia, your medical records must include a diagnosis, a list of the symptoms that led to the diagnosis, and evidence (including lab tests) that other conditions have been ruled out.
Tip 3: See a rheumatologist.
If your family doctor diagnoses you with fibromyalgia, ask to be referred to a rheumatologist. Many family doctors diagnose fibromyalgia when they can’t find an explanation for a patient’s symptoms. A rheumatologist’s diagnosis carries more weight with the SSA.
Tip 4: Avoid being diagnosed by a mental health professional.
Fibromyalgia is a medical condition. While many psychologists attribute physical symptoms related to depression and anxiety to fibromyalgia, diagnosis by a mental health professional is not adequate for approval for SSDI benefits. In fact, the SSA may determine such a diagnosis to mean your symptoms are psychosomatic. Continue to see your mental health practitioner, but obtain confirmation of your diagnosis from a medical specialist.
Our Boston SSDI lawyers help disabled applicants throughout New England navigate the SSDI claim process. We offer several guides to help, including Massachusetts disability attorney John Keefe’s book, Unlocking the Mystery - The Essential Guide for Navigating the Social Security Disability Claims Process. We also can help with your application and documentation. To schedule a free appointment, contact Keefe Disability Law at 888-904-6847.
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