Fibromyalgia and Social Security Disability

Crucial Facts about Fibromyalgia and Social Security Disability Benefits You Need To Know

Fibromyalgia is a long term problem with a multitude of symptoms.  Fibromyalgia patients complain of chronic pain that affects multiple parts of the body.  Other debilitating symptoms associated with fibromyalgia may include intense fatigue, stiffness of the joints, disturbed sleep and difficulty swallowing. Still others may experience depression, anxiety and difficulty thinking or concentrating.

Those who suffer with fibromyalgia often complain of difficulty with everyday activities, maintaining a normal schedule, and getting along with others.  Many fibromyalgia patients report that stress makes the symptoms worse. For those who are unable to work due to their fibromyalgia symptoms, Social Security Disability benefits are often a last resort.

Detailed proof from a treating physician is necessary in order to prevail on a claim where fibromyalgia is the disabling condition.  The treating physician’s records should include physical examinations and should note the patient’s tender points.  The medical records should show that the patient has complained of widespread pain in all four quadrants of the body for a period of at least 3 months, pain in at least 11 of 18 tender points in the body and proof that other diseases could not have caused such symptoms.The records should also indicate the length and severity of symptoms over a period of time and the response to prescribed treatment.  The medical records alone could make the crucial difference.

Although the Social Security Administration does not have a specific medical listing for fibromyalgia, the condition can be found disabling if the patient’s complaints and limitations have been documented and are consistent with the medical evidence.  Documentation that fibromyalgis affects the person’s ability to sit, stand, walk and lift would be necessary in such a claim.  Additionally, if the person also has problems with memory and understanding, that often will impact the ability to work under supervisioin, get along with co-workers or carry out instructions.  Such complaints need to be documented by the treating physician.

If you have any questions about a Social Security Disability claim, please feel free to give us a call for a free consultation at 352-629-0480.



Autism and Social Security Disability

Autism is a neuro-developmental disorder that can be delibitating for some. Though the degree of autism varies, it is typically characterized by lack of social interaction and poor communication skills. Other characteristics may include compulsive, obsessive behavior, limited attention span, unusual repetitive movement like head rolling, arm flapping and in some cases, inflicting self injury.  Autism is usually diagnosed in the child in the toddler years, however symptoms can appear when the child is an infant.  Although there is no cure for autism – early diagnosis and intervention can lead to better outcomes.

There are cases where the severity of the symptoms preclude the person from being able to function in either a school or work environment.  In such cases, an application for Social Security Disability benefits may be the only option. The Social Security Administration (SSA) lists the qualifying conditions for various disabilities in the “Listing of Impairments.”  For a child the criteria is found at 112.10. If an individual meets these conditions he/she is eligible for social security disability or supplemental security income benefits.

Adults who have been diagnosed with autistic spectrum disorder (ASD) may also meet the criteria for a listing for adults.  This is found in the Listing of Impairments at 12.10.  Asperger’s Syndrome (AS) and Pervasive Development Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS), part of the autism spectrum are usually observed in adults.  For the full listing information, please click on the link below.

Not everyone will fulfill the criteria to meet a listing.  Even if you are unable to prove that you meet a listing, it is still possible to prove that the condition is disabling using the medical/vocational rules.  For an adult, these guidelines take into consideration your work history, employment factors, educational background and other factors in determining whether you are disabled.  For a child these considerations will evaluate how the child fairs in various domains such as learning and acquiring information; attending and completing tasks; interacting and relating with others; moving about and manipulating objects; caring for yourself and social skills; and health and physical well-being;

If you have any questions regarding a Social Security Disability or Supplement Security Income issues, please give us a call for a free consultation.  352-629-0480.  Sims & Stakenborg has been serving Gainesville, Ocala and the surrounding areas since 1982.

Has Your Claim For Social Security Disability Been Denied – Do You Know What To Do?

Dealing with disability is tough. Apart from the physical pain, you also have to deal with the emotional trauma and impact on your family.  You probably did not want to file for disability, but that was your only option. When you get the news that your social security disability benefits have been denied, it seems like the last straw. Naturally, you are disappointed and feel like giving up.  This is possibly the biggest mistake you could make.

A majority of social security disability claims are denied at the initial level.  Don’t give up!

1.   Make Sure To Appeal Your Denial ASAP 

You have a specific time period (usually 60 days) within which you must your appeal.  Failing to appeal or missing the deadline for filing your appeal means you will need to file a new claim unless you have “good cause” for failing to appeal in a timely manner.   Additionally, you may lose valuable back benefits if you do not file a timely appeal.

2. Find out why your Application was Denied 

The Social Security Administration (SSA) requires you to provide information regarding your medical condition, your work history, your age and education, and how your conditions affect your ability to work in order to review your application and make a decision. If you forgot some information in your application because you did not have it, or did not know that it was important, your application could be be denied. Ensuring that your appeal has the correct information is important.  It is also extremely helpful for a social security attorney to know the reasons for the denial.

3. Know the Various Stages of Appeal 

After the first denial, most states (including Florida) require you to file a “Request for Reconsideration.” In this appeal, your case will be reviewed once again by a different set of social security examiners.  If your claim is denied at this stage, the next step is to file an appeal called a “Request for Hearing” in front of an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ).  A hearing can be quite intimidating and if you are not familiar with the Social Security Disability rules and regulations, you may not understand why your claim has been denied and what is required in order to strengthen your claim.

4. Have an Attorney Who Practices in the Area of Social Security Disability Represent You 

An experienced social security disability attorney understands what is required in order to prove that someone is disabled under the Social Security Disability system.  Additionally, an experienced attorney can review the facts of your case and identify what may be needed in order to prevail on your claim.  A local social security disability attorney is familiar with the physicians in the area and the Judges who will hear your claim.  In many instances, an attorney will be able to communicate with your physicians, employers, and coworkers and obtain information that strengthens your case.

If you have any questions regarding a Social Security Disability or Supplemental Security Income claim, please feel free to contact Sims & Stakenborg at 352-629-0480 for a free consultation.



Open Enrollment For Medicare ends December 7, 2014

If you are eligible for Medicare, make sure to choose your plan before December 7, 2014 when the open enrollment period ends.  If you are already enrolled, you may change your health care plan and your prescription drug coverage.  For additional information please check the following websites:


Veterans Day

Sims & Stakenborg will be closed to observe Veterans Day on November 11.  We thank all of our service men and women for the brave sacrifices they have made protecting our rights and freedom.  Please make sure to thank a veteran!

News for Those Experiencing Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

A new study reveals that those who have been diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome actually have similar changes in the brain.  The study revealed those with CFS have less white matter  in the brain and, using DTI, a relatively recent study, abnormalities are found in the frontal and temporal lobe as well.  This study is important to those who are filing for Social Security Disability benefits as objective medical evidence is required in order to prove that a disabling condition exists.    For additional information please visit:

If you have any questions regarding a social security disability and/or a supplemental security income matter, please contact us at Sims & Stakenborg for a free consulation at 352-629-4080.

Social Security to Review Program Used to Collect Debts

On April 14, 2014, Carol W. Colvin, Acting Commissioner of Social Security directed an immediate halt to attempts by the agency to collect debts owed to the agency that are 10 years old and older.  Many of these debts resulted from overpayments assessed to Social Security Disability and Supplemental Security Income recipients decades ago and the debt has carried to the children of the recipients.  The agency has seized tax refunds to help recoup the debt.  The agency will be conducting a review of the program.  If you hhave been assessed with an overpayment for which you do not believe you are responsible, you are urged to contact the Social Security Administration  and request an explanation or seek options to resolve the overpayment.  Many of these overpayments occurred due to incorrect payments made to a parent or guardian on behalf of a child.  If an overpayment occurred, the child could be held responsible years later.

Supplemental Security Income Updates?

At Sims & Stakenborg, we see many disabled people who meet the medical requirements for disability, but because of outdated policies which control the determination for financial need under the Supplemental Security Income program, many of those people are ineligible for benefits and medical care.

The Supplemental Security Income program is in need of change.  There are many people who qualify as disabled due to their medical conditions, but are ineligible for benefits due to income and assets.  There is currently a resource limit of $2000.  If someone has in excess of $2000 in assets, this would disqualify them from receiving SSI benefits.  This resource limit has increased by only one third over the past 41 years.  Additionally, there is the “In-Kind Support and Maintenance” rule which reduces an SSI beneficiary’s benefits by one-third if that person is living in the household of another person and receives in-kind support such as room and board.

There is a proposal to update the SSI program which would increase the resource limit and repeal the in-kind and support maintenance provision.

Additional information about the need to update the program can be found on the National Senior Citizens Law Center website at

If you have any questions about a Social Security Disability or Supplemental Security Income claim, please contact us for a free consultation.


Congratulations to Our Own Archie Blair!

We are very pleased to announce that Archie Blair has been voted the 2014-2015 Florida Association of Legal Support Specialists (FALSS)President Elect! This position leads to the presidency of FALSS in 2015-2016. Way to go Archie! This is quite an accomplishment and we are very proud of you!

Is my local politican able to help me with my Social Security Disability claim?

Should you contact a politician to help expedite your claim? Many of your congressional representatives have staff who assist in contacting the social security office to determine the status of claims filed by their constituents.  If you contact your local Congressman or Senator’s office, a Congressional Inquiry can be made into the status of your claim.

Such inquiries (which generally involve a telephone call or the writing of a letter) are made by an office holder’s staff member and may help to speed up an ALJ disability hearing, or help to resolve an outstanding issue with your disability claim.

How do you go about initiating such an inquiry? First you must determine who represents you.  Your local telephone book normally has a list of your congressmen and women and senators and contain their address and telephone numbers.  An internet search can also provide this information.

If you are being represented, your representative should have access to your electronic folder and will be able to determine the status of your claim through a simple inquiry.  If you have any questions about a social security disability or supplemental security income claim, please feel free to contact us for a free consultation at 352-629-0480.