Let’s talk about fibromyalgia, does fibromyalgia qualify for disability benefits and should you hire a social security disability lawyer ? First of all what is fibromyalgia? Well those of you who have it certainly know that it is a condition where there is pain and the muscles joints and tendons as well as stiffness and tenderness to the touch. The pain sometimes may hurt all over and it may be accompanied by headaches or by fibro fog which we refer to in that way when there’s confusion and memory lapses. It may have colitis symptoms associated with it and fibromyalgia may often have headaches and other symptoms as well as chronic fatigue. These are all the symptoms that most patients with fibromyalgia have to a greater or lesser extent.
The cause of fibromyalgia is not known
There are many theories that we won’t get into today but certainly at bottom no one knows exactly what causes fibromyalgia. The diagnosis of fibromyalgia depends on the American Rheumatism Association criteria that were established in 1990 which incorporate finding 11 out of 18 trigger points. Now the newer criteria established more recently by the College of Rheumatology has actually done away with the trigger points that is to say, trigger points are no longer a part of the diagnosis of fibromyalgia. Why is that? Because the ACR thought trigger points were just too inconsistent and not reliable to really diagnose this condition. However, Social Security still probably uses trigger points when they process benefits claims. Your doctor should be aware though that there are newer criteria to diagnose this condition. All soon, what’s new is the fact that there is now an objective blood tests to help diagnose fibromyalgia.
For years, fibromyalgia is a condition that we often said didn’t have any objective findings the new tests for fibromyalgia which is called FM /a. FM for fibromyalgia and /a is a blood test that measures cytokines in the blood and certain patterns of cytokines help to diagnose and confirm the presence of fibromyalgia. Ask your doctor about the FM /a test and if appropriate maybe that should be done in your case to help objectively diagnose fibromyalgia.
Your doctor must document all of these symptoms and findings in your medical record
Fibromyalgia is a condition that can be quite disabling. Generally speaking Fibromyalgia is sometimes harder to get a disability judge, or ALJ to award disability benefits. Physical disabilities such as a chronic liver disease, lung cancer, kidney failure, Multiple Sclerosis and or severe burns for example have a higher chance of getting benefits awarded. Always consult with a professional disability representative and you and your doctor have to discuss your symptoms in detail as to:
- how much chronic fatigue you have
- how much sleep disturbances you have
- whether or not your pain is grade 7 or grade 9 or grade 10 out of 10 and so forth
And what’s important is that your doctor must document all of these symptoms and findings in your medical record. Why is that so important? Because Social Security looks at your medical records in order to determine whether you have disability. If you do not communicate to your doctor your findings and symptoms, and if your doctor doesn’t carefully document them in your medical record then when your case comes up to be heard Social Security may have nothing on which to base a disability award. That’s why it’s so important to have a two-way communication with you and your doctor and have your doctor carefully document your condition now.
Under HIPPA, you have the right to look at your medical records and to see what your doctor has entered and it is recommended that you do that. Ask your doctor for a copy of each and every progress note when you see your doctor. So that you can see what in fact your doctor enters into your medical record and if your doctor isn’t entering the data that you need for your disability award. What your symptoms are, how they disable you what you can or cannot do. Then you can talk to your doctor at each and every visit to see what that information is captured in the medical record. You have a legal right to look at it inspect your medical records. So finding a good doctor who is going to work with you, who understands fibromyalgia, who is willing to capture the information that you give to that doctor and make a solid medical record for you. That’s important if you’re going to win your disability for fibromyalgia case.