November 13, 2019

Do Disability Applicants Have to Prove Their Fibromyalgia Is “Real”?

Given the level of debate within the medical community about the nature and even the existence of fibromyalgia as a “real illness,” it’s not surprising that many people with fibromyalgia entertain significant doubts about applying for disability. It is true that many fibromyalgia patients, through careful and assertive pain management techniques and treatment protocols, can do most everything they used to do before the onset of their symptoms, and that includes working. However, for some fibromyalgia patients, pain levels are so significant that work is impossible. For those people, applying for Social Security Disability should be considered.

But even if the fibromyalgia sufferer is willing to file the application and go through that potentially lengthy process, it’s far from a certainty that the application process will result in approval. For this reason, many applicants entertain serious doubts about the process, including the fear that they’ll somehow be asked to prove that their pain is real.

And in some ways, they are right to be concerned. A successful disability claim — for any illness — does depend significantly on adequate medical documentation and proof of both the diagnosis and the disease’s impact on the applicant’s ability to work. For that reason, getting professional functional capacity evaluations tests and opinions is a crucial step in the disability application process.

Focusing on the actual limitations that fibromyalgia imposes on the ¬†applicant means that the application process revolves around the true purpose of Social Security Disability: finding out whether the patient/applicant is capable of working, and to what extent. Coupled with sufficient medical evidence of the several facts we do know about fibromyalgia — that it appears to be a neural disorder, for instance, and that it is characterized by cortical or sub-cortical augmentation of pain processes — a thorough FCE can help support the disability applicant with objective, demonstrable proof of physical limitations.

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