To start, I always tell people up front that in order to win your fibromyalgia disability claim, you have to be able to show Social Security how your illness prevents you from being able to work. It is not enough to simply prove that you are sick; you must really elaborate on how your sickness limits your abilities to perform even simple, unskilled work. In other words, you must be able to translate your medical condition into specific work limitations. These limitations are the bread and butter of a winning case.
Things to Keep in Mind About Fibromyalgia Disability Claims
I have seen an increase in the amount of disability claims based on fibromyalgia in the last ten to fifteen years. Ten years ago, most judges had never heard of fibromyalgia, and any Social Security Disability attorney usually had to educate the Judge about what it was. Along with the increasing number of claims also comes an increasing overuse of the fibromyalgia diagnosis. Unfortunately, this overuse results in a distrust or cynicism on the part of the Judges.
A second thing to keep in mind is that fibromyalgia does not necessarily lend itself to objective testing. Meaning that you may have fibromyalgia, but many of your medical tests may have come out relatively normal. Judges are very skeptical about a condition in which most of the medical record reflects your self-reporting of your symptoms. Fibromyalgia is a very subjective experience for its sufferers and there is often a lack of good objective medical evidence to back up the diagnosis.
Despite all that, there are some common features in winning fibromyalgia cases. Some of these commonalities include the following:
- claimants are typically females 35-50 years old
- most claimants are Type A personalities
- often the claimants are high achievers and have been successful in their careers
- many fibromyalgia claimants have been to multiple doctors and have tried lots of different medications, therapies, and cures
- often the fibromyalgia claimant suffered some major trauma many years prior to developing the illness
There is no listing for fibromyalgia, so your claim is based on your ability to argue that your condition has rendered you unable to work.
Winning a Fibromyalgia Disability Case
My case strategy for winning a fibromyalgia case is based on a “functional capacity” argument. The basic argument is that due to the debilitating symptoms of fibromyalgia, my client would not be a reliable employee at even a low stress, simple job with minimal physical and mental demands.
I use this functional capacity argument (also known as residual functional capacity argument, or RFC argument) since Social Security has yet to publish a medical listing for fibromyalgia. I suspect, however, that Social Security might publish a medical listing for fibromyalgia one day.
For more details on how I formulate a functional capacity argument to win a Fibromyalgia Social Security Disability case, please visit the Functional Capacity Strategy for Fibromyalgia page.