In the past, many doctors and Social Security Administration (SSA) disability examiners believed that fibromyalgia was not a real disease and was “in the heads” of those with the diagnosis. You can’t see fibromyalgia and there is no “lab test,” but it is a real disability that directly affects one’s ability to work and function reasonably for everyday life activities.

Recent research has shown that those with fibromyalgia have differences in blood and brain chemistry. If the near future, those differences will make definitive diagnosis possible. For now, patients are considered to have fibromyalgia when all of the following are true:

  1. The patient has a history of pain throughout the body that has lasted more than three months.
  2. The pain is present in at least 11 of 18 possible tender points.
  3. No other explanation can be found for the pain.
  4. The patient has other symptoms of fibromyalgia, including sleep disturbances, fatigue, headache, palpitations, muscle spasms, stiffness, twitching, nerve pain, tingling or numbness in the skin problems, thinking, or problems remembering.


In 2012, the SSA published a ruling for adjudicators to use when evaluating fibromyalgia, but this does not mean that approval for SSDI is automatic. An applicant with fibromyalgia must meet all of the conditions outlined by the SSA in order to be approved for benefits. The ruling refers to diagnosis using either criteria under the 1990 or the 2010 criteria promulgated by the American College of Rheumatolotgy. Here are four tips that can help you get approved for SSDI for fibromyalgia in Omaha:


  1. Get a diagnosis from a medical doctor, not a mental health professional – Psychologists diagnose mental conditions; fibromyalgia is a medical condition. Although you may be seeing a psychologist for stress, depression, and anxiety related to your fibromyalgia, a diagnosis by your psychologist or counselor will not be considered adequate by the SSA.  You may use your mental health records to support your application, but get a formal diagnosis from a medical specialist.
  2. Get a diagnosis from a rheumatologist – Many family doctors diagnose fibromyalgia when they cannot find another cause for a patient’s symptoms. If your doctor suspects fibromyalgia, ask to have the diagnosis confirmed by a rheumatologist. The rheumatologist’s diagnosis will have more clout than a family doctor’s diagnosis.
  3. Obtain a copy of your medical records – Your Social Security benefits determination will be based on the content of your medical records. A record of your condition over a period of time will be helpful to your case.  Know what those records say.This is especially true if your diagnosis was made years ago. Make sure that your medical records list your diagnosis, all your symptoms, and your treatment plan. If your medical records don’t support your claim, get a second opinion.
  4. Make sure that you are actually diagnosed with fibromyalgia – Your medical records should clearly state that you have a diagnosis of fibromyalgia. They should not say that your symptoms may be caused by fibromyalgia. The diagnosis should be supported by a list of your symptoms and evidence that other conditions have been ruled out.


The Omaha Social Security disability lawyers at Cuddigan Law have helped many clients throughout Nebraska and Iowa to successfully navigate the SSDI claim process. Learn how our experienced Nebraska disability attorneys can help you by requesting a free copy of our guide:  Why You Should Hire an Attorney to Handle Your Social Security Disability Claim, or, call us at  402-933-5405 or email us at  [email protected] for a free evaluation of your case.

Timothy J. Cuddigan (Founder - Retired)
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Omaha Social Security and Veterans Disability Lawyer With Over 40 Years Experience