What is Fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia is a medical condition that is typically described as chronic muscle pain and overwhelming fatigue. Additional symptoms include: widespread pain within joints, tendons and muscles. Along with the constant pain experienced, fibromyalgia causes intense fatigue.
How does the Social Security Administration look at it as a disability?
Social Security applies the Listing of Impairments which includes many physical and mental impairments. It considers these impairments sufficient for a finding of “disabled” if the criteria for each specific listing are met. Essentially, if your medical diagnosis and the severity of your symptoms meet those set forth in a listing , then Social Security will find you “disabled” for meeting a listing. Unfortunately, Social Security does not have a listing for fibromyalgia. However, a recent Social Security Ruling (SSR 12-2p), gives the Administrative Law Judge and the other claim examiners some guidance on how to deal with this condition. The Ruling provides the following guidance: First, you need to establish that you have fibromyalgia by “providing evidence from an acceptable medical source”. (See 20 CFR 404.1513(a) and 416.913(a)). It must be a medical doctor who can provide the medical evidence that will be considered. If it is from a nurse practitioner or a specialized social worker, it will not be considered evidence from an acceptable medical source. Secondly, there needs to be a history of widespread pain. This is explained as “pain in all quadrants of the body and axial skeletal pain that has persisted for at least 3 months”. Social Security uses the 1990 American College of Rheumatology (“ACR”) Criteria for the classification of Fibromyalgia for its guidance on the impairment. Third, there must be at least 11 positive tender points on physical examination and the points must be found bilaterally (left and right side) and above and below the waist. Social Security also provides a list of 18 tender points located in various areas of the body. Your doctor should apply the correct amount of pressure to the tender points.