Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Fibromyalgia is finally being recognized

In 1998 in response to an ALJ who stated that he would never award benefits based on fibromyalgia because it lacked objective medical evidence and was not a "medically determinable impairment", then Deputy Commisioner Susan Daniels stated that "fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome can constitute medically determinable impairments within the meaning of the statute".  In 1999 SSA issued SSR 99-2p which provided guidance on the evaluation of chronic fatigue syndrome: "CFS, when accompanied by appropriate medical signs or laboratory findings, is a medically determinable impairment that can be the basis for a finding of disability".  Fibromyagia was mentioned only in a footnote "fThere is considerable overlap of symptoms between CFS and Fibromyagia Syndrom, but individuals with CFS who have tender points have a medically determinable impairment.  Individuals with impairments that fulfill the American College of Rheumatology criteria for FMS may also full=fill the criteria for CFS".

Under SSR 99-2p, claimants with fibromyalgia could be evaluated under the criteria for CFS, but there was no way to evaluate fibromyalgia on it's own.  However, ALJs continue to deny claims based on fibromyalgia by finding that the plaintiff is not credible, there is no medical diagnosis and/or that the claimant's occasional daily activities conflict with the allegations of pain.  See for example, Stone v. Astrue, 804 F.Supp.2d 975 (D.Ariz.2011), where the court remanded because the ALJ misunderstood how fibromyagia can be diagnosed.  The ALJ had rejected the plaintiff's allegations that she met the criteria of fibromyalgia because the record showed "benign examininations regarding physical impairment".  The court noted that, because fibromyalia is a diagnosis of exclusion, this benighn evidence is consistent with fibromyalgia. "Fibromyalgia patients may "present no objectively alarming signs' and may manifest normal muscle strength and neurological reactions and have a full range of motion."

As noted by several courts, an ALJ's reluctance to accept fibromyalgia as a severe impairment will then influence the weighing of the treating opinion.  See e.g. Rogers v. Commissioner of Social Security, 486 F.3d 234 (6th Cir.2007)  It can even undermine and ALJ's entire decision.  See e.g. Moraine v. SSA, 694 F.Supp.2d925 (D.Minn.2010) Misunderstanding of how fibromyagia is diagnosed and treated as well as it's effects on daily living caused one ALJ to erroneously reject the paintiff's testimony and the treating physcisian's opinion in Lawson v. Astrue, 695 F.Supp.2s720 and prescriiption for physical therapy and aerobic exercise.  Johnson v. Astrue, 597 F.3d409.  In Galliganother ALJ to incorrectly find that a treating rheumatologist's opinion was inconsistent with his an v. Astrue, 656 F.Supp.2d 1067 the ALJ cited a lack of objective medical evidence to support the plaintiff's pain allegation.  The court found that the plaintiff had produced objective medical evidence of an iunderlying impairment that could reasonably give rise to the symptoms, and remanded for further proceedings with regard to evidence of fibromyalgia.  The court noted that the ALJ's pain conclusion may, in turn, affect his severity analysis and his findings with regard to the plaintiff's allegations of mental impairment, the physical therapists' report, the plaintiff's credibility, and the impat of the plaintiff's obesity, "in short, consideration of the fibromyalgia evidence... may affect the entire sequential disability analyisis".

16 comments:

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  2. Hey thanks for this post i found it to be very high quality. I've been dealing with social security disability in minnesota and i feel like you nailed it, how one can obtain those benefits. Thanks again!

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  3. Hey, thanks so much for posting this article. I have been suffering from fibromyalgia for far too long. I am hoping to find an orlando social security disability attorney to help me in my claim. Do you happen to have any recommendations?

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  4. Thank you for this post! Social security has always been a very confusing concept to me. I am thinking about hiring a social security disability attorney in Chicago IL to help me through the process. would you recommend doing this?

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  5. I have been looking to get disability claims in San Diego ca. I cannot work, but I still need to be able to eat and continue to live. I have been having a hard time and I do not know what to do.

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  6. That is good to know. Maybe that will give me a bit more leverage with social security disability in Greeley. This stuff can be a hassle. It's my right, but some people don't want to give up money. It's that simple.

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  10. Wow! This seems like a really helpful post. I know it is hard to get on the social security disability claim, but I think this really breaks it down to help those who really need a disability claim. Comforting to know that there is help out there.
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  11. Thanks for the great information. My sister is looking into disability law and was wondering about Fibromyalgia. This was perfect for what she needed. Thanks again for the help and the great information! http://www.mooneyparklaw.com/Social-Security-Disability-Claims/

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  13. My mom has been suffering from fibromyalgia for a long time, and it's good to know that her affliction can be recognized along with other disabilities. Does this mean that she can contact a disability lawyer and get coverage for it? I'm also curious (if you know) whether fibromyalgia is genetic... I've been worried about getting it myself.
    http://sdltdattorneys.com/Private_Disability_Claims_San_Diego_CA.html

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  14. It is such a relief to learn that fibromyalgia is finally being recognized as a medically determinable impairment. My mother has been suffering with this disease for years. She has never been able to collect SSID, and it has always baffled us. I am happy that they have righted this wrong.

    http://sdltdattorneys.com/Private_Disability_Claims_San_Diego_CA.html

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