Fibromyalgia is an often disabling medical condition that is characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain along with fatigue, sleep, cognitive and memory issues, depression, and sometimes gastrointestinal issues. Current research suggests that fibromyalgia amplifies pain by affecting the way your brain processes pain signals.
You may experience symptoms after a physical trauma/injury, surgery, infection or psychologically stressful event. Sometimes, you may just start hurting. Fibromyalgia symptoms can gradually accumulate over time with no single triggering event.
Our team here at Louisiana Disability Law has worked with our share of fibromyalgia sufferers. Our years of experience have taught us (1) insurance companies and their doctors view fibromyalgia skeptically and (2) our fibromyalgia clients can often be their own worst enemy.
If you are suffering from fibromyalgia and have a long-term disability claim, this post is for you. We set forth a few tips for preparing your claim and working with your doctor to give you the best chance possible of success.
Based on our experience, you should never say/write/report the following:
5 Things You Should Never Say About Your Fibromyalgia
#1 – I have “brain fog” or “fibro fog”
This is a common term found across the web on fibromyalgia resource sites. However, the term does not really describe how your fibromyalgia affects you cognitively.
Instead of saying “I have fibro fog” a better thing would be actually describing your problems, like: “Many days (not all the time) I have trouble finding my words. I sometimes forget things like medication, appointments, events so I have started to calendar them but sometimes I even forget that.”
#2 – I “hurt all over”
Fibromyalgia is a pain-causing disease/syndrome. Pain is common. However, fibromyalgia specific pain is tied to the 18 known tender points across the body. Instead of saying “I hurt all over” say specifically where you hurt – “My pain is greatest in my neck and shoulder, on my arms by the elbow, across my lower back, and in my upper leg right above my knee.” Saying you hurt all over gives the examiner and reviewer reason to doubt you and the diagnosis.
#3 – I have “good days and bad days”
Look, everyone has good days and bad days. Having good days and bad days is not a sign or symptom of a disease generally or fibromyalgia specifically. You should just be brutally honest in your reporting of your good days and bad days. Something like, “My doctor advised me to become more active and I try. Some days, I go for a walk or accompany my children to their events. But, I usually have difficulty in the hours/days following these walks or outings, so much so that I spend a lot of time in bed.” A good idea is to keep a Fibro-Journal where you document what you did and how you feel afterward for a while.
#4 – I sleep “all the time” or I am in bed “all the time.”
The simple truth is – this is not possible unless you are in a constant catatonic/vegetative state. I advise my clients to never use words like “all the time” or “constantly” or other such definitive, unrelenting words. Here’s the thing, when you use words like this, the insurance company can easily prove you are a liar. The better course of action is to just tell it like it is (brutal honesty) – “I can do some things, but I get fatigued often so I lay down a few hours a day outside of my normal sleep.” Or, “Doing activity makes me extremely fatigued. I usually have to rest inside for a while after – it could be 30 minutes or it could be 6 hours. It just depends, each time is different.”
#5 – I stopped taking the medication prescribed and take herbal supplements!
Your policy will require you to be under the appropriate care and treatment of a medical doctor for your condition. So, unless your doctor tells you to stop taking the prescribed medication and take the herbal supplements – don’t do it. I am all for you trying alternative methods to find relief from your condition, but you and your doctor need to be on the same page because the doctor’s records will be utilized in determining your claim.
The long and short is this – there is no guarantee that your long-term disability claim for fibromyalgia will be approved but saying these five things to the disability insurer can significantly lower your chances.
If you are suffering from fibromyalgia and have a long-term disability claim, and your LTD insurer is giving you a hard time, give us a call at 985-240-9773! Or fill out our contact form. We can help you fight to get the benefits you deserve and are entitled to receive under your policy.