Fibromyalgia is a rheumatic condition that results in stiffness and tenderness in certain parts of the body. Patients also experience a lot of pain and fatigue.
Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition that affects more than 5 million people in the United States. The disorder can make everyday life difficult, but it often goes undiagnosed for years. Because fibromyalgia doesn’t have visible symptoms, it’s sometimes mistaken for other conditions.
To be considered disabled under Social Security’s listing of impairments, a person must have either medical evidence showing he has the disorder or other evidence showing it’s similar to an illness already on Social Security’s list.
If fibromyalgia doesn’t meet one of these two requirements, its severity will be assessed based on how much it limits your ability to do basic work activities such as walking, standing, sitting, and lifting.
Many people with this condition continue to work full time since it is not necessarily disabling.
Usually, they will have to take medications to manage the pain and fatigue and will also need to eat healthier foods.
According to Debilitating Diseases, It is possible to get disability benefits if you have this problem, although the process can be difficult.
This is because the condition does not have any symptoms that can be tested. In other words, all symptoms of the disease are self-reported.
Insurance companies usually exclude conditions with such symptoms. They will not even cover health conditions with signs like headaches and joint pains.
How Can You Get Disability Benefits if You Have Fibromyalgia?
It will be easier to get approved for disability benefits if you have a rheumatologist to support your case.
They usually test the 18 pain points of the condition. If you have pains in 11 of these points, you will have a better chance of qualifying for disability benefits.
According to WebMD, Some people have less than 11 tender points but still, get diagnosed with fibromyalgia if they have at least six ongoing symptoms of the condition.
Some of these are fatigue, irritable bowel syndrome, memory problems or unclear thoughts, anxiety, depression, and fatigue.
In addition, these items will help your case:
- The relevant medical records
- Statements from friends, family, even co-workers
- Documents that rule out other conditions and diseases
You will only be able to qualify for the benefits if the symptoms persist for three months. The condition has to be severe through this period.
It will be helpful if you have other people to report on your condition and difficulties in carrying out your daily tasks.
At the end of it, the disability benefits will only be issued if the condition is too severe for you to work.
This will be ruled from the statements by your doctor, friends, family members, co-workers, and yourself.
Some aspects that are considered in this regard include:
- Your ability to stand, sit and walk in a normal workday
- Your capacity to make simple movements such as bending and balancing
- Your ability to maintain attendance at work despite your feelings of exhaustion
- Your mental capacity- This is usually determined by a group of doctors who work for the Social Security Administration (SSA). They will examine the effects of the condition on your memory, concentration, speech, word-finding, calculation, and speed of processing information.
Watch this video for tips on how to successfully apply for disability benefits for fibromyalgia.
The SSA will process your information within 5 months, so it is best to apply as soon as your condition becomes disabling.
Getting these benefits will allow you to stay out of work for at least one year and can also help you cover the treatment costs.
What Modifications Can You Make in the Workplace
If you still have to work, you should talk to your employer about your condition and request them to make modifications to the workplace.
Here are some changes that can help you manage your stress:
- Reducing distractions in the workplace.
- Using written instructions as opposed to verbal instructions since patients usually have poor concentration.
- Providing regular breaks for you to distress and relax. Such breaks can be used to perform stress management routines such as meditation.
- Eliminating or limiting your physical exertion at work since you are already fatigued.
- Offering a flexible working schedule. In some cases, patients even get to work from home.
- Providing task lighting as opposed to fluorescent lights.
- Allowing calls and visits to the doctor.
- Provide organizers and to-do lists to assist with your memory problems.
How Can You Manage the Symptoms of Fibromyalgia?
According to WebMD, as noted before, fibromyalgia is not a disabling condition.
However, it makes it hard for you to lead a normal life and also worsens your work experience. To manage it, you should take certain steps.
Take Your Medications
Many people with fibromyalgia fail to take their medication. If the condition affects your memory, you can keep a list of daily tasks to complete, and add your medications to it. This will reduce forgetfulness.
According to NYTimes, Exercise is one of the best cures for fatigue and body pains. You don’t need to go to the gym; a simple walk or swim can be good enough for you.
In any case, other exercises may be difficult for people with this condition.
These exercises should be carried out at least three times a day, and around 30 minutes for each session.
It is inadvisable to work out before going to bed since it can affect the quality of your sleep.
Doing this will not make you feel better the next day since good sleep is also important in combating exhaustion.
Manage Your Stress
According to Harvard Medical School, Fibromyalgia can lead to high levels of stress since it affects your mental capabilities. Your physical abilities can also be compromised.
To manage this stress, it is important to focus on your top priorities and not try to solve everything.
Also, you should adopt stress management techniques such as yoga, tai chi, and meditation.
Watch What You Eat
Fibromyalgia affects your energy levels, and this is why you should carefully watch your diet.
Some foods are known to drain you of energy, and these include caffeinated drinks and alcohol.
These should be avoided as much as possible. You should also keep a diary to track any patterns between what you eat and your energy levels.
Fibromyalgia can significantly increase stress since it affects your overall life experience.
It increases fatigue and body pains, and can even affect your mental state.
Some people with this condition will not be able to work at all and can qualify for disability benefits.
It is hard to get approved by the SSA since all the symptoms of the condition are self-reported.
If you are unable to work, you should visit a rheumatologist for a professional examination and recommendation.
Those who don’t get approved should try and get their bosses to implement changes in the workplace to accommodate you.