July, 2010: Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue

One of the more difficult cases to prove involves that of Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue. We have handled a good many of these cases over the years to a successful conclusion. This month I am happy to say that I have received a favorable hearing decision in the case of "Marie." When Marie was last working in 2005, she was working two (2) jobs that were becoming increasingly difficult for her. She had been struggling with Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue for a period of 10 years at that point, treating with the same primary care physician and physiatrist during that period of time. Marie was likewise receiving a treatment protocol from a doctor out in California and had received three (3) different rheumatological opinions during the course of our representation. Unfortunately, as is many times the case with these cases, Marie was denied on her initial application out of Massachusetts, had requested reconsideration and had been denied once again.  We did request a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge on Marie’s behalf and her case was subsequently assigned for hearing at the Boston, MA Office of Disability Adjudication and Review. 

Fortunately for Marie, she had remained in consistent treatment, seeing a number of medical specialists that evidenced very zealous attempts on her part to get answers to her concerns.  Not only was she suffering from Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue, but also issues with Irritable Bowel Syndrome, TMJ, along with Anxiety and Depression.  She was attempting not only medication management for her concerns, but also had undertaken a special protocol treatment out of California that she was accepted into (and had been attempting a number of different treatment modalities, which included, for example, acupuncture). Marie made very clear through her treatment that she was committed to getting better and returning to work.  

As a result, we were able to obtain substantial evidence on appeal (once we became involved in her case) from her various physicians (a total of 5 different questionnaires) that addressed the extent of clinical findings and their residual functional assessment as to what she could undertake on what would be a regular and continuing basis.  In the meantime, Social Security had obtained no evidence from their own physicians to suggest that these reports should not be provided significant weight when it came down to a determination in her case.

I am happy to report that, notwithstanding the fact that we were assigned to an ALJ with a very low approval rate, we did succeed in getting the presiding ALJ at hearing to understand the severe, long-term debilitating nature of Marie’s conditions and how they served to significantly impact her ability to function in any consistent manner in a competitive work environment.  The ALJ found both the medical evidence we had obtained and Marie's testimony to be persuasive. Thus, she has been provided with benefits going back three and one-half (3 ½ years) which is making a huge difference for Marie and her family.

Marie put her trust in our office for 2 ½ years and her kind words following her favorable decision will ring in my ears for a long time: I know of no other area of the law where I could make such a wonderful impact in someone's life. I feel very fortunate to be handling cases for such deserving individuals.

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