Fibromyalgia, which disproportionately affects women, is one of the most common sources of chronic pain. This disease affects about 2% of adults in the United States according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Explore the symptoms of fibromyalgia and learn how the Social Security Administration determines disability insurance eligibility for this condition.
Characteristics of fibromyalgia
Most people who have this diagnosis report stiffness and pain that affects the entire body, along with migraines and other types of headaches. Exhaustion, fatigue and insomnia are also common among individuals who have fibromyalgia. The condition can also cause concentration problems, issues with memory, and mental health issues such as anxiety and depression.
Sometimes, fibromyalgia occurs in conjunction with gastrointestinal symptoms. For example, you might develop irritable bowel syndrome, constipation, bloating and abdominal pain.
The chronic pain, mental health conditions and fatigue associated with fibromyalgia can make gainful employment difficult. You have the right to ask your employer for accommodations if you have a disability such as fibromyalgia. For example, you can request a flexible work schedule or telecommuting arrangement. However, if you cannot work at all, you can apply for Social Security disability insurance.
While the SSA does not have a specific listing for fibromyalgia, you can submit evidence of a medically determinable impairment. The SSA uses criteria from the American College of Rheumatology to indicate whether a person has MDI. You must present medical records that indicate:
- Evidence of pain throughout the body, including tender points in at least 11 areas above and below the waist on both sides of the body
- Tests to rule out similar conditions, such as multiple sclerosis, hypothyroidism and lupus
- Presence of at least six symptoms of fibromyalgia, including dizziness, seizures, GI pain, muscle weakness, chronic headaches, IBS, anxiety, depression, insomnia, and memory or cognitive issues
If you have chronic pain and other signs of fibromyalgia, seek a second opinion if your doctor is unable to find a cause for your symptoms.