Qualifying for Social Security Disability Insurance is not easy. The Social Security Administration carefully guards against fraudulent applications, which means you must undergo a rigorous screening process to prove you are eligible for the benefits. If you are suffering from a debilitating condition, this may seem like an overwhelming task.
In fact, you may have had a similarly overwhelming experience in trying to convince your doctor that something was wrong with you. The pain and other symptoms may have come on like fire throughout your body or progressed gradually with fatigue, pain and sleep disturbances. After many tests, prescriptions and specialists, you finally received the diagnosis of fibromyalgia. Now, you want to make the most of your efforts to obtain the disability benefits you need.
Fibromyalgia is one of those mysterious conditions that manifests itself differently for nearly every victim, but the common symptom is pain and tenderness in any of 18 specific areas on your body. To qualify for SSDI, you must have this pain in at least 11 of those areas, or you must have at least six known FM symptoms, including these and others:
- Digestive issues such as irritable bowel syndrome
- Depression, anxiety, mood swings and other psychological issues
- Forgetfulness, confusion and fogginess
- Persistent exhaustion that sleep does not relieve
- Sensitivity to light, smells or temperature
When you apply for SSDI, your best advocate will be the documentation you prepare. Naturally, you will want to include all medical records, documentation of visits to specialists, test results, psychological evaluations and prescriptions you have used from the beginning of your symptoms. It may help to mention alternative methods of relief you have sought so the SSA understands that you have exhausted every resource available.
You don’t have to go it alone
After you submit your application, which you can do online, by phone or in person, the SSA will carefully evaluate the information you supplied. This process may take up to five months, so it is a good idea to begin the application process as soon as possible after receiving your diagnosis of fibromyalgia. After all, chances are that you have already missed work because of your symptoms, and you may be counting on those benefits sooner rather than later.
Many in your situation find that seeking the assistance of an attorney is a good way to improve the chances of a positive outcome. A New Jersey attorney who has experience in SSDI matters can be an invaluable resource.