Winning social security disability benefits in North Texas based upon Fibromyalgia presents unique challenges that require a unique and experienced approached. Over the past 24 years handling only social security disability cases in Dallas Fort Worth, I have secured disability benefits for hundreds of Fibromyalgia sufferers who cannot work.
Often time the likelihood of a favorable outcome is greatly impacted by decisions Fibromyalgia suffers may make. Here are the top 5 “mistakes” I have seen that Fibromyalgia suffers often make:
1: Failure to secure a proper Fibromyalia diagnosis.
The medical profession as a whole in North Texas has been uneven in its acceptance of Fibromyalgia as a legitimate medical condition. Many family or general practice doctors make the diagnosis of Fibromyalgia with no basis in medical testing, but rather based solely on reported symptoms. Administrative Law Judges in Dallas.Fort Worth who hearing social security disability cases commonly believe, rightly or wrongly,that doctors other than Rheumatolgists often apply the Fibromyalgia diagnosis when their patient is reporting unexplained pain, fatigue and cognitive issues.
The Social Security Administration issued a Social Security Ruling in 2012 to provide guidance and instruction to disability adjudicators considered Fibromyalgia-based disability claims. SSR 12-2p makes it clear that the Fibromyalgia diagnosed must be based either on the “1990 American College of Rheumatology (ACR) Criteria for the Classification of Fibromyalgia” or the “2010 ACR Preliminary Diagnostic Criteria”. In my experience, few general practice doctor reference either of these diagnostic criteria.
2: Failure to Receive consistent treatment with a Rheumatologist
Rheumatology is the appropriate medical specialty for Fibromyalgia, Treatment options for Fibromyalgia, however, are very limited. Doctors become doctors because they want to help people get well. It has been my experience that they often lose their enthusiasm for treating patients for whom they have few treatment options. I have seen some dismiss Fibromyalgia patients saying “I can’t do anything more for you”. Other times the Fibromyalgia patient see little progress managing their disease even under the care of a Rheumatologist. These factors often result in Fibromyalgia patients falling away from medical treatment. Yet it is axiomatic in social security disability law that failure to pursue medical treatment usally means a denial of the disability claim.
Bottom Line: Secure medical treatment for your Fibromyalgia with a Rheumatologist. If you fell like your Rheumatologist is doing you no good or that your Rheumatologist has become “disinterested” in treating you, look for another Rheumatolgist.
3: Trying to Educate Social Security about Fibromyalgia
It is not uncommon for me to review a social security disability file and find that before the Fibromyalgia client had hired me they had submitted vast materials on Fibromyalgia, usually secured on the internet. Other complete common forms such as the “Disability Report” in great detail, often hand-typed with attachments. I believe this common practice by Fibromyalgia-based disability claimants in North Texas is based in their common perception that their medical condition, Fibromyalgia, is misunderstood. This belief is undoubtedly rooted in the common sceptism they encounter from doctors, friends and family (“Gee, you look find to me!”). And,because Fibromyalgia sufferers are often higly educator former high achievers, they are simply applying their skills to the task at hand. After all, what in the world can be wrong with being thorough and detailed about such an important matter?
In the “Alice in Wonderland” world of social security disability, however, these well-meaning efforts are often misinterpreted. Disability decision makers often see energetic claim presentation and documentation by an unrepresented claimant as inconsistent. It is unapparent toe the disability decision maker that the detailed documentation may have been completed over the course of many days with frequent breaks.
4: Failing to Treat Psychologically-based Symptoms
Fibrmyalgia and psychologically based impairments such as anxiety and depression commonly appear together. Yet Fibromyalgia suffers in the DFW area are often reluctant to seeking psychiatric help. It is axiomatic social secuirty disability law that the disability decisionmaker will not consider the impact of conditions that are not being treated medically. Often times in my experience Administrative Law Judges who may be sceptical about Fibromyalia may find the psycholoical evidence persuasive.
Because it is common for Fibromyalgia sufferers to have been told “its all in your head” they wrongly feel that getting psychological help is an admission that their physical impairments are a fabrication of their mind. Nothing could be farther from the truth: chronic physical illness always brings about depression and anxiety. Would you be reluctant to get psychiatric help if you had a cancer diagnosis?
5: Choosing National “Disability Mill” Representation over an experienced local attorney
Large firms such as Binder and Binder, Freedom Disability,Disability Group and Citizens Disability have pioneered a new and dangerous business model in social security disability representation. Funded by venture capital firms,their main agenda is return on capital to the investor.This high volume practice and business organization encourages a “throw-it-up-against-the-wall and see if it will stick” approach: the large numbers mean it is more advantageous to alocate minimal time and resources to a case thatn to fully develop difficult claims. There may be many claimants who will still succeed with one of these national groups, but in my opinion, Fibromyalgia sufferers in North Texas are not among them.