Can I Get Disability Benefits for Fibromyalgia?

If you have fibromyalgia, Social Security disability benefits may be available to you. To determine whether you are disabled by fibromyalgia, the Social Security Administration will consider whether your fibromyalgia qualifies as a severe medically determinable impairment at Step 2 of the Sequential Evaluation Process. See Fibromyalgia as a Medically Determinable Severe Impairment. If your fibromyalgia qualifies at Step 2, the Social Security Administration then considers whether your condition is severe enough to equal a listing at Step 3 of the Sequential Evaluation Process. See How to Get Disability Benefits for Fibromyalgia by Equaling a Listing.

If your fibromyalgia is not severe enough to equal a listing, the Social Security Administration must assess your residual functional capacity (RFC) (the work you can still do, despite your fibromyalgia), to determine whether you qualify for benefits at Step 4 and Step 5 of the Sequential Evaluation Process. See Residual Functional Capacity Assessment for Fibromyalgia.

About Fibromyalgia and Disability

Fibromyalgia, also known as fibrositis and fibromyositis, is an impairment characterized by a lack of objective findings. Its cause is unknown, there is no cure, and the symptoms are subjective.

Notwithstanding the lack of objective findings, fibromyalgia can have a devastating impact on your ability to work.

Fibromyalgia is defined by the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) as “widespread pain in all four quadrants of the body for a minimum duration of 3 months and at least 11 of the 18 specified tender points which cluster around the neck and shoulder, chest, hip, knee, and elbow regions.”

Other typical symptoms are irritable bowel syndrome, chronic headaches, temporomandibular joint dysfunction, sleep disorder, severe fatigue, and cognitive dysfunction.

Fibromyalgia as a Medically Determinable Severe Impairment

At Step 2 of the Sequential Evaluation Process, you must have a medically determinable impairment that is severe. The Social Security Administration has accepted that fibromyalgia can constitute a medically determinable impairment. A medically determinable severe impairment must be established through medically acceptable clinical and laboratory diagnostic techniques.

Generally, to establish fibromyalgia as a medically determinable severe impairment, you must show:

  • Widespread pain for at least three months.
  • Pain on palpation in at least 11 of the 18 tender point sites (as identified by the American College of Rheumatology).
  • Morning stiffness or stiffness after sitting for a short period of time.
  • Fatigue.

Continue to How to Get Disability Benefits for Fibromyalgia by Equaling a Listing.