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IL disability attorneyFibromyalgia is one of the more difficult medical conditions to address in the context of applying for Social Security disability insurance. The medical definition of fibromyalgia, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is a “condition that causes pain all over the body (also referred to as widespread pain), sleep problems, fatigue, and often emotional and mental distress.” While fibromyalgia can manifest itself through these symptoms, there is no simple medical “test” that can diagnose a patient with the condition.

As a result, Social Security administrative law judges (ALJs) tend to discount subjective complaints of pain by disability applicants as insufficient to prove their fibromyalgia prevents them from working. Illinois courts have repeatedly told Social Security, however, that ALJs cannot require such “objective” tests to confirm a fibromyalgia diagnosis.

Appeals Court Rejects Widower's Appeal of Social Security Decision

At the same time, an ALJ may consider additional objective evidence when evaluating the “severity” of fibromyalgia under the Social Security Administration's disability listings. A recent decision from the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals here in Chicago, Gebauer v. Saul, illustrates this principle in greater detail. This sad case actually involved the widower of a woman (the decedent) who died suddenly while her application for disability benefits was still pending.

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chronic pain, Chicago social security disability benefits lawyerIn earlier posts, we talked about how medical conditions that cause chronic pain, such as fibromyalgia, may help qualify someone to receive Social Security Disability insurance benefits. Although chronic pain can render a person unable to work, Social Security officials often dismiss complaints of chronic pain as made up. With that in mind, here are some things you should know about seeking disability benefits if you suffer from chronic pain.

1. Obtain as Much Medical Evidence as Possible

The biggest issue with applying for disability benefits based on chronic pain is the difficulty in “objectively” proving its frequency and severity. Social Security officials tend to assume disability applicants are fabricating or exaggerating their pain just to get benefits. That is why you need to approach Social Security with as much documented medical evidence as possible. This includes laboratory tests, X-rays, and physical examination by a qualified physician. Keep in mind that medical evidence need not prove the severity of your pain, only that it has a demonstrable physical cause.

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Chicago Social Security Disability Benefits AttorneyWe have already discussed how chronic pain conditions, such as fibromyalgia, may qualify a person for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits. There are many cases where chronic pain can be difficult to diagnose through objective medical evidence. That does not mean, however, that Social Security officials may simply disregard or dismiss an applicant’s subjective complaints about pain.

Illinois Judge Orders New Hearing for Woman With Chronic Knee Pain

Federal courts in Illinois routinely chastise Social Security for its failure to properly deal with applicants suffering from chronic pain. Here is a recent example. The applicant in this case was a 57-year-old woman who most recently worked as a housekeeper. She stopped working due to chronic pain in her knees and feet, as well as other medical impairments. The applicant also suffered from arthritis and depression.

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