Disability for Fibromyalgia

Insurance companies are behind the times in classifying Severe Fibromyalgia as a disability.  In the cases I know, including my own, insurance companies (at least in the US) don’t like to pay disability to people suffering with Severe Fibromyalgia and do everything they can to deny cases.  I had worked for a large credit union for almost 20 years and disability insurance was included in our benefits.  We had good benefits and I had no idea that I would someday need to apply for disability.  When I realized that I could no longer work due to my illness I was too sick for it to really register and be able to wrap my mind around it.  My rheumatologist told me that this would be my last day of work, that I was one of the people who had Severe Fibromyalgia, and  it appeared that I wouldn’t be able to work for the rest of my life.  At first the insurance company approved my claim, then denied it, then would  approve it about every 3 to 6 months.  I eventually needed to get an attorney to help me ” jump through all the hoops” to try to satisfy the insurance company.  I went to numerous doctors that they requested, completed lots of paperwork, sent information that was requested, etc.  This was the first attorney that I ever had in my life.  He continued to send information or ask me to do so when needed for the first 2 years.  The agreement was that he was only paid when the insurance company would pay my benefits.  Then when it looked like they were no longer going to pay –  the attorney called me in for a meeting and told me that he was going to start charging me a fee since it didn’t look like the insurance company was going to continue paying benefits.  At the meeting I was stunned because it was a good law firm in a large city and they told me up front that they would take care of my case and only take a percentage if the insurance company paid.  They never said that  if the insurance company didn’t pay that they would ask me for money!  I sat there in disbelief.  I reminded him of the agreement and I also asked to look at the file that he had on my case.  Right on the top was a letter from the insurance company stating that they were sending a lump sum of money for the last X amount of months and all they needed was to know where to send the money.  I read it to him and asked “what does this mean?” like I didn’t know.  He said “I must have overlooked that and just had it filed, so he let me know that he would continue to help me with my case since the firm would be getting additional money”.  I wanted to tell him off, but that is not me so I signed what I needed to and left the law firm knowing that I would never return again.  I searched again for someone to help me with my disability and got a referral for one in another city, so I used that attorney for the rest of my 4 years fighting for my disability from the insurance company.  Sadly enough, I only received 2 years of disability pay from the insurance company that was supposed to pay me 66 2/3 of my income until retirement due to my disability.   When I had to quit my career I also applied for Social Security Disability Income which would have reduced the disability income of the insurance company by the amount that Social Security would pay, so I would end up with 66 2/3 of my salary just like what was supposed to happen.  Within 2 months, which is relatively fast, I was approved for Social Security Disability.  I think I was approved for it so fast because I had so much information and history with doctors and specialists and because I did everything possible to be able to continue working.  It was very apparent that I was disabled.   I am VERY  grateful for my Social Security Disability income, but is a “drop in the bucket” of the amount that I should be receiving from my former employers insurance company.

So….. because my husband and I both worked and we were a two income family, when I had to stop working due to my illness we lost HALF of our income.  We had retirement saved that was obviously designated for our retirement, but we still had a young family and the bills to pay so we used our retirement money to pay off some of our bills and used the rest to supplement our income until my “retirement income” got permanently approved (which it never did with the insurance company).  My husband has a good paying job, but with it and my small Social Security Disability income our family of five has had to scrape by payday to payday to survive.  Most years we can’t even afford a meager vacation.  Two of our boys are now in college and one in high school.  We make a little too much money for our boys to qualify for help from the government on paying for college, so they have had to take out student loans to cover the cost and we help them with a little spending money.  My husband and I planned to pay for college for them, but now our boys will have to come out of college with large student loan debts hanging over their head.  When retirement comes for me and my husband we will have very little retirement money so I hope that Social Security Retirement holds out.  If the Social Security Retirement System survives in the US and we actually get retirement income it will continue to be a pay check to pay check kind of life.

The insurance company knew that I was disabled and even admitted this over the phone, they continued to say that they wanted an X-ray or blood test to PROVE that I had Severe Fibromyalgia.  They also admitted to me that they knew that no X-ray or blood test would show the results that they requested.  Even after 5 years of being disabled and having jumped through all the hoops that the insurance company of my employer asked – this is still a bitter pill to swallow.  I pray for peace in this area of my life.

I obviously feel like I got a raw deal, but I don’t let this steal my happiness.  I feel that I need to tell my story to try to help others going through the same thing.

My husband and I were high school sweethearts and are still head over hills in love with each other.  We have 3 wonderful boys.  They are loving, kind-hearted, hard-working, down-to-earth young men.  We also have loads of extended family that we love dearly and treasure our time together.  We are blessed!  This is my life and I want to continue living life to the fullest!! 

I wish for you a low pain day with extra energy!

Explore posts in the same categories: Coping with a chronic illness, fibro fog, Fibromyalgia, Skin Issues

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5 Comments on “Disability for Fibromyalgia”

  1. Megan Ellis Says:

    I understand what you’re going through. According to my rheumatologist, medical aids in South Africa don’t believe in fibromyalgia. The medication and hospital fees are ridiculous and difficult to afford, and every day I wonder how this will affect me in the future.

    • Ginger Ray Says:

      Megan, Hopefully in the future things will be better, but for me the disability that I should have from my employer’s insurance is a done deal so I guess we will be poor the rest of our lives. Not a fun thought.

  2. I can hear in your story that you are a positive person who sees her blessings despite the rain. Fibromaylgia reduces us to the important things in life; our family and friends. We learn what really matters and what we can live without and what we wouldn’t give up for anybody! Thank you for sharing. God bless.

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