Fibromyalgia & Chronic Pain LIFE Summer 2013, Issue 9 - Page 7

Recognizing Fibromyalgia as a Disability: A Landmark Change by the U.S. Social Security Administration M ay 12 is National Fibromyalgia Awareness Day, a part of a month long opportunity to advocate on behalf of people affected by fibromyalgia as well as pay tribute to those who have labored to create positive changes for people living with this chronic pain condition. The following article details the work of Mitzi Baker on behalf of millions of people with fibromyalgia. Mitzi’s impact stor y illustrates how one person can make a difference to raise awareness about FM SSI (Fibromyalgia Social Security Insurance), which helped to forge a new fibromyalg ia SSI r uling that better represents people with this condition. This new ruling results in more o p p o r t u n i t y fo r t h e m to submit their claims for benefits within the guidelines of SSA regulations. tr ied to work with people with FM. Partly as a result of not having a specific medical I9 filing number (needed for insurance and payment reimbursements) along with FM not being a clinical diagnosis pages of complicated paperwork which is difficult in any circumstance, but even more burdensome when a person is ill and in pain. P re v i o u s l y w h e n p e o p l e with fibromyalg ia have qualified for SSI, it has not been because of their FM symptoms, but because of overlapping conditions such as depress i o n a n d a n x i e t y. They are frequently sur prised and dis tressed when they re c e i v e t h e i r S S I acceptance letter to discover they are receiving benefits for a psychological illness rather than fibromyalgia, a chronic pain condition. ut now Mitzi has appeared on the scene and was in the right place at the right time to help blaze the trail for people with fibromyalgia. Mitzi is a middle-aged woman in Chicago who has fibromyalgia and a Masters of Jurisprudence degree from L oyola University C hicago School of L aw. Mitzi has worked for federal agencies and joined the Social Security Administration in 2009. In 2002 her many symptoms became more prevalent, and B based on a specific biologi c a l t e s t , p e o p l e r e p e a tedly submit cor rect for ms just to be told they do not meet SSI requirement criteria. Disability attorneys are sometimes helpful, but they usually do not get involved until after the first rejection letter. That means the claimant has already completed all of the necessar y pages and P eople with fibromyalgia have historically str ugg led to qualif y for Soci al Security Disability, partially because they have not fit into the necessary eligibility guidelines. T he old adage of tr ying to fit a round peg into a square hole fits perfectly with the way SSI has Summer 2013 Fibromyalgia & Chronic Pain Life  7