Can you Qualify for Fibromyalgia Disability?

Woman in wheelchair

Fibromyalgia is a disease that makes daily life hard. Even getting out of bed in the morning is a struggle with such a painful condition. And that makes it hard to handle your obligations at work… if not impossible. But can you qualify for fibromyalgia disability?


Disability benefits are payments you receive to protect you from the financial hardship of disability. The federal government is required to provide people with disabilities that prevent them from working with benefits under the Americans With Disabilities Act or ADA.

So if you have a medically documented disability, you are entitled under the law to receive support from the government. And if you have private disability insurance through an insurance provider and become disabled, they are also required to pay you a portion of your lost wages. These benefits last until you reach retirement, or until you are no longer disabled.

Of course, with fibromyalgia, getting those benefits can be challenging.


Technically speaking if any disease makes it impossible for you to work, then you qualify for disability. However, it is sometimes tough to prove to insurance providers or the government that your fibromyalgia meets that standard.

Fibromyalgia qualifies as a disability according to the ADA, but only under certain conditions. First, you have to have a history of widespread pain. While that is probably the case if you have fibromyalgia, the pain must also be located in at least 11 of the 18 tender points associated with fibromyalgia. These are on both sides of the body and located at:

  • The base of the skull
  • The lower spine
  • Shoulder
  • Supraspinatus muscle
  • Top of the rib cage
  • Outer Elbow
  • Top of the buttock
  • Below the hip
  • The inner knee

So to qualify for disability, you have to feel chronic pain in at least 11 of these. You also need a history of at least six fibromyalgia symptoms. Such as:

  • Fatigue
  • Cognitive or memory problems
  • Waking unrefreshed
  • Depression
  • Anxiety disorder
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome

So if you have pain in at least 11 points and at least six chronic symptoms then you can qualify for disability. But you also have to have professional documentation to back up your disability claim.


To apply for disability, you first have to gather a lot of medical documents. You first need a doctor to test you for fibromyalgia and establish that you meet the criteria for disability. They will then provide you with documentation for your application.

Second, you have to go to other specialists and psychiatrists to establish that your fibromyalgia is not actually the result of some other condition. Once you have documentation stretching back for a year that shows you have all the disabling symptoms and that you don’t have any other conditions, then you can apply for disability.

The government or your insurance provider will then try to find out if your symptoms are severe enough that they prevent you from working. If they find that your symptoms make work impossible, then they will qualify you for disability.

It’s important that while your disability is being processed that you don’t do anything that could be considered gainful employment. Even if you drag yourself into work and deal with horrible pain, the fact that you were able to work would disqualify you for disability and you will have to start the process over.

That’s part of why it is so hard to get disability for fibromyalgia. It’s a disease that most people don’t understand and it’s hard to survive while disabled without either working or getting disability insurance. Remember to stay informed of the procedures for getting disability. And try to manage your symptoms as well as you can in the meantime.

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