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Anxiety Disorder and Depression with Fibromyalgia — How are SSDI benefits awarded?

A person who suffers anxiety or depression as a result of fibromyalgia may be eligible to collect Social Security disability insurance (SSDI). This disability benefit is available only if the conditions make it impossible for the applicant to perform substantial gainful activity.

The amount of benefits will not necessarily increase because of the existence of multiple disabling conditions. Instead, the Social Security Administration (SSA) will evaluate overall how your medically determinable impairments affect your ability to work and earn income. Being able to prove the co-existence of several conditions may improve your chances of a successful application in New York.

How will the Social Security Administration evaluate my conditions?

The SSA will consider the combined debilitating effects of your multiple conditions. To begin, the association will compare your medical and/or mental impairments against the SSA’s listing of impairments, or the “blue book.”

The listing of impairments is a standardized means of determining which conditions qualify for disability and the symptoms necessary to earn that rating. Depression and anxiety disorders are listed in the blue book under the “Mental Disorders – Adult” section.

Fibromyalgia is not included in the listing of impairments, but this does not mean it cannot be recognized as a medically determinable impairment. The SSA will assess your medical evidence – provided by a licensed physician – to determine whether your fibromyalgia meets the standards of disability.

Your fibromyalgia will be classified as a medically determined impairment only if you are able to prove all three of the following factors: 

  • you have a history of consistent, widespread pain throughout the body for three or more months;
  • you experience tenderness in 11 out of 18 established “tender points” on the body; and
  • you can present diagnostic evidence that excludes all other possible disorders as the source of your symptoms.

 

Instead of the tender points requirements, applicants who can demonstrated six or more symptoms of fibromyalgia may qualify as well. This may include fatigue, cognitive or memory problems, as well as depression and anxiety disorder, among other symptoms or co-occurring conditions.

Once the SSA establishes your fibromyalgia as a medically determinable impairment, it will assess how the intensity and frequency of your pain impacts your ability to work.

As the SSA looks at these factors, it must also consider how your anxiety and/or depression impacts your functional level. For instance, say your anxiety levels fluctuate in severity, but your pain levels tend to stay fairly consistent. The SSA must consider how the multiple conditions impact one another and your overall work ability.

What’s the connection between fibromyalgia, and anxiety and depression?

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, approximately 20 percent of those with fibromyalgia also suffer depression or an anxiety disorder. Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition causing pain in the joints. It has been connected with such symptoms as:

  • sleeplessness;
  • problems with memory;
  • sensitivity to pain and temperature; and
  • headaches.

 

A person seeking SSDI benefits for fibromyalgia and depression or anxiety should submit substantial medical records that detail the symptoms and effects of all conditions.

How does the Social Security Administration determine how much money I’ll receive?

Having multiple impairments does not entitle you to more SSDI benefits. Instead, the amount of your monthly SSDI benefits will be based on your past work history. Specifically, the SSA will look at your lifetime average earnings that were covered by Social Security, or the money you paid into the system over time. Your Social Security statement outlines your monthly income. You may also use the Social Security’s online benefit calculator via the SSA’s official website to calculate your monthly earnings.

Note that your monthly payments may be reduced if you receive certain other forms of government benefits, such as New York workers’ compensation or a government pension.

If you have questions about your eligibility for Social Security disability benefits in New York, schedule a free case evaluation to learn more about your potential claim and benefits. Contact Markhoff & Millman to learn more – 866-205-2415 or (866) 205-2415.

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