SOCIAL SECURITY DISABILITY TIPS
Social Security Disability cases based on Fibromyalgia alone are generally difficult to
win, and are always easier to win if other impairments are involved.
But having said that, it should be be noted that the outlook for such cases is starting to
improve because more information is coming to light about the nature and causes of this
Regardless, however, of whether a claimant is applying for disability based solely on
Fibromyalgia, or alleges several impairments, a case involving Fibromyalgia can be
strengthened by understanding how Social Security Disability Examiners consider medical
evidence. This was covered to some extent in the article preceding this one, but on this
page the tips will be more specific.
If you allege Fibromyalgia when you apply for disability, make sure you have a diagnosis
of this in your medical records. It's happened more than once that a doctor has mentioned
to a patient that they "might have fibromyalgia" without actually diagnosing this
condition in their medical chart.
If your primary doctor (i.e. family doctor or internist) diagnoses you with Fibromyalgia,
try your very best to be referred to a specialist, such as an orthopedist or a
rheumatologist (or a pain or chronic fatigue specialist), who can give you the same
diagnosis. Because so many doctors hand out the fibromyalgia label when they can't
otherwise diagnose a patient's complaints, the value of this diagnosis is somewhat
diluted. It can be significantly strengthened, however, and taken more seriously, if the
same conclusion is reached by a physician who specializes in bone or tissue disorders, or
disorders that involve complaints of pain and fatigue.
Although it may be impossible to do, try to avoid being diagnosed with Fibromyalgia by a
mental health professional. Why? Because the simple truth is this: in the same way that
family doctors mislabel their patients and overuse the Fibromyalgia diagnosis, so do
psychiatrists. This is a regular occurrence, in fact, for patients who are being treated
It should not be surprising to anyone, of course, that a person who experiences continuous
pain and/or fatigue might also have to deal with depression as a result. Nevertheless, a
Fibromyalgia diagnosis by a mental health practioner is usually interpreted by a
Disability Examiner to mean this: that the disability claimant's symptoms and complaints
are psychosomatic in nature. In other words, all in their head.
Therefore, again, for the fibromyalgia sufferer who is trying to win disability benefits,
it is always sound advice to seek a supporting diagnosis from a specialist.
However, this becomes doubly more important for the claimant who is also receiving mental
Find out what's in your medical records. The importance of this cannot be stressed
enough. All Social Security Disability cases are decided chiefly on the basis of a
claimant's records. This is true at the intial application level, reconsideration level,
and at the Administrative Law Judge hearing level where a claimant is generally
represented by an attorney, or non-attorney disabilty representative.
Applying for disability without knowing what your records state about your condition is
unwise, to say the least. And many claimants have been surprised to find that the doctor
who claimed to support their case did not indicate the same level of support in his or her
By getting copies of your medical records before you apply, you can get a rough idea of
how your case looks and decide if you need to switch to a different physician, one who is
more capable concerning your treatment and more willing to support your disability case.