We are often asked, “is polymyalgia rheumatica a disability?” Polymyalgia rheumatica is considered a disability if your symptoms and limitations are severe enough to prevent you from working. If so, you can file a claim for disability benefits for polymyalgia rheumatica.
In this article, we’ll explain:
- What polymyalgia rheumatica is;
- How a claim for long term disability benefits for polymyalgia rheumatica is evaluated;
- What evidence you need to support your disability claim for polymyalgia rheumatica; and
- How working with a long term disability attorney can help you win your claim.
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What is Polymyalgia Rheumatica?
Polymyalgia rheumatica is an inflammatory condition that causes muscle pain and stiffness. Most people with polymyalgia rheumatica experience the worst pain and stiffness in the shoulders or hips. Symptoms are usually worse in the morning and become less painful throughout the day.
Symptoms of polymyalgia rheumatica are usually felt on both sides of the body and appear suddenly. Often symptoms are first experienced in a general area such as the upper body, legs, or arms. These symptoms sometimes spread to other areas over time. They may include:
- Pain and stiffness in the shoulders, neck, or arms;
- Pain and stiffness in the hips, buttocks, thighs, or knees;
- Pain and stiffness in the elbows, wrists, or hands; and
- Limited range of motion in the affected areas.
Other symptoms of polymyalgia rheumatica may include fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, weight loss, and depression. People with polymyalgia rheumatica may experience remissions in their symptoms, which later reappear and may worsen.
Most people with polymyalgia rheumatica are diagnosed after the age of 65. Patients with polymyalgia rheumatica are rarely under the age of 50. Women and Caucasians are diagnosed more often than other demographics. While there is no known cause, people who have relatives with polymyalgia rheumatica or other inflammatory conditions are more likely to develop it themselves.
Polymyalgia rheumatica is associated with giant cell arteritis, also known as temporal arteritis, which is a condition that causes inflammation in the lining of the arteries that can cause serious health issues. This is due to the fact that polymyalgia rheumatica and giant cell arteritis frequently affect the same types of people. Patients diagnosed with polymyalgia rheumatica should also be evaluated for symptoms of giant cell arteritis.
Diagnosing Polymyalgia Rheumatica
Because most people with polymyalgia rheumatica begin to experience symptoms after the age of 50, symptoms may be confused with typical signs of aging. People with polymyalgia rheumatica may be mistakenly diagnosed with fibromyalgia, which has similar symptoms.
Diagnosis of polymyalgia rheumatica involves clinical exams and diagnostic testing. In a clinical exam, a doctor can evaluate a patient’s medical history, symptoms, and range of motion. They may also conduct neurological exams or test the patient’s reflexes. Diagnostic testing can include:
- Blood tests to check for signs of inflammation; and
- Imaging tests usually ultrasounds or MRIs, used to check for signs of other conditions that may cause similar symptoms.
Patients diagnosed with polymyalgia rheumatica are typically monitored for progression of their symptoms and signs of rheumatoid arthritis and giant cell arteritis.
Treating Polymyalgia Rheumatica
The most common treatment is oral corticosteroids. Many patients find significant improvement in their pain and stiffness with corticosteroid treatment. Oral pain relievers, such as Ibuprofen or opioids, may also be used in more severe cases. Topical creams to reduce pain or heating pads are also helpful. Pain and stiffness associated with polymyalgia rheumatica often become better with movement or exercise. Physical therapy is commonly used in conjunction with medication to help bring relief of symptoms and prevent further issues.
Like other disorders that involve chronic pain, mental health care is an integral part of the overall treatment plan. Cognitive-behavioral therapy has shown some benefit in reducing pain and improving a patient’s quality of life when dealing with this illness. Alternative therapies such as acupuncture, massage, or meditation may also be helpful when used in conjunction with other treatments.
Assessing a Long Term Disability Claim for Polymyalgia RheumaticaPolymyalgia rheumatica can inhibit an individual’s ability to work. If you have a long term disability insurance policy and are unable to work due to this condition, it’s advisable to apply for long term disability (LTD) benefits. The insurance provider will then assess your claim to determine eligibility based on the policy’s terms.
Typically, LTD policies define a person as disabled if, due to a medical condition, they:
- Cannot perform their current job duties for the initial two years covered by the policy, and
- Are unable to undertake any other job role after this initial two-year span. However, policies vary, so it’s crucial that you thoroughly understand the specifics of your own plan.
Qualifying for Disability for Polymyalgia Rheumatica
While not every case of polymyalgia rheumatica is disabling, people who have severe polymyalgia rheumatica may struggle to work due to their condition. The severe pain and stiffness may prevent someone from performing jobs involving bending, lifting, or carrying objects. Since pain and stiffness often become worse with a lack of movement, sedentary positions may be difficult or impossible.Patients may have difficulty performing basic tasks such as getting out of a chair, bathing, or getting dressed. Someone with severe symptoms may be unable to perform daily functions or work activities without the use of assistive devices.
It is also important to inform the insurance company about any other medical conditions that affect a person’s ability to work. Disability evaluations consider the person’s total health, so someone with polymyalgia rheumatica may qualify when their other medical conditions are taken into consideration.
Evidence You Need to Support your Disability Claim for Polymyalgia Rheumatica
For your claim to be successful, the insurance company needs evidence of your diagnosis, ongoing symptoms, and the impact of these symptoms on your daily life. You should send those records to your insurance company yourself – do not count on the insure to obtain the records for you.
A Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) assessment can play a crucial role in your claim. They outline how your condition affects you and what tasks you can perform despite your limitations. Ensure you maintain transparency with your doctors, facilitating a precise RFC assessment. If you need an RFC form, you can download one from our website.
If you suffer from multiple medical conditions that affect your quality of life, it’s crucial to furnish details about each condition and the respective treatments.
Working with a Disability Attorney
Don’t lose hope if your disability benefits claim is initially denied; many experience this setback during the disability claim process. Remember, you have the right to appeal and to supplement your claim with additional information.
Given the complexities of the appeals process, it’s wise to consult a disability attorney early on. Collaborating with an disability attorney significantly boosts your chances of securing the benefits you rightly deserve. They will help you manage deadlines, organize necessary documentation, support you during interviews, and provide invaluable guidance. The best part? They only get paid if they successfully recover benefits.
The Ortiz Law Firm has a commendable track record of representing individuals in disability cases nationwide. If you’re seeking expert advice regarding your polymyalgia rheumatica disability claim, we are here to help. We offer a free, no-obligation case evaluation. Any questions you have about your claim will be addressed. To learn more about how we can assist in your disability case, call us at (888) 321- 8131.