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Disability Lawyers in Chicago help fibromyalgia victims

One form of disability that disability lawyers in Chicago often see in clients is fibromyalgia. Fibromyalgia is a chronic illness that causes various adverse symptoms, including pain, exhaustion, dizziness, depression and memory problems. The efficacy of treatments varies, and the condition prevents some victims from performing work or activities of daily living. Social Security Disability benefits may be available to help these victims.

Unfortunately, receiving SSD benefits for fibromyalgia can be challenging. Fibromyalgia has no known cause. Various factors are thought to contribute to its development. Many symptoms are self-reported and cannot be objectively measured. Individuals with fibromyalgia must provide thorough documentation and meet special requirements to qualify for benefits.

Medically determinable impairments

Before fibromyalgia can be evaluated as a disabling condition, the victim must prove it is a medically determinable impairment. The condition must meet the following criteria:

  • Associated pain must last over three months and affect all four quadrants of the body.
  • Objective medical tests must prove other conditions are not responsible for the observed symptoms.
  • The victim must have 11 positive tender points in a medical exam of 18 established tender points. Alternately, the victim must experience at least 6 recognized fibromyalgia symptoms.

If these criteria are met, the condition qualifies as a medically determinable impairment. However, it is not yet considered disabling. Victims still must provide extensive documentation to prove the fibromyalgia prevents gainful employment.

Documenting adverse effects

People seeking benefits should obtain a diagnosis from a rheumatologist, rather than a general practitioner. A rheumatologist will be more familiar with acceptable means of diagnosing fibromyalgia and ruling out other conditions. Applicants should supplement the diagnosis with medical records spanning the full duration of treatment.

To establish the extent of the disability and fibromyalgia, applicants should ask a physician to complete a Residual Functional Capacity evaluation. This is a detailed assessment of how fibromyalgia affects a victim’s physical or mental abilities. The Social Security Administration uses this information to determine whether a person can work despite suffering from fibromyalgia. Often, a treating physician’s analysis is more accurate than the SSA analysis. The SSA’s conclusions are based only on provided medical evidence.

Applicants should consider keeping journals of symptoms. The nature, duration and intensity of the symptoms should be recorded. Victims should also note any impacts the symptoms have on basic daily activities. Applicants can additionally collect statements from family, friends, co-workers and others who can attest to the effects of the condition. These statements are not conclusive evidence, but they can bolster a claim.

Fibromyalgia can be difficult to document, and many initial claims are denied. An attorney can help an applicant ensure that all relevant medical evidence and other documentation is provided.