Somatic Symptom Disorder VA Disability

Veterans who develop a physical or mental disability due to their military service are entitled to disability compensation. Mental disabilities are very prevalent in the Veteran community. Typically, when civilians think of mental health conditions associated with the military, their mind goes directly to PTSD. However, Veterans can develop a number of different mental health conditions in service, such as anxiety, depression, or bipolar disorder. A less-known mental health condition that Veterans can develop is somatic symptom disorder.

What is Somatic Symptom Disorder?

Somatic symptom disorder (also referred to as somatization disorder) is characterized by emotional distress due to an unwavering focus on a symptom you are displaying. According to the American Psychiatric Association, somatic symptom disorder involves extreme focus on physical symptom such as pain, shortness of breath, or an elevated heart rate, that results in major distress and leads to problems carrying out your everyday life.

However, it is important to note that the physical symptoms may or may not be linked to a diagnosed medical condition. Regardless, the person is experiencing symptoms and therefore believes they are physically ill.

What are the Symptoms?

Somatic symptom disorder can lead to a variety of symptoms. According to Mayo Clinic, a nonprofit medical research center, symptoms associated with the disorder can be:

  • Specific sensations, such as pain
  • General symptoms, such as fatigue
  • Unrelated to any medical condition
  • Mild, moderate, or severe

No matter the symptom, the key to somatic symptom disorder is the individuals’ dedicated focus on the symptom. Mayo Clinic further explains that these thoughts include:

  • Constant worry about a potential injury/illness
  • Mistaking normal sensations as signs of illness
  • Fearing symptoms are serious, even when they are not
  • Unresponsiveness to medical treatment or unusually sensitive to medication side effects

What Causes Somatic Symptom Disorder?

Since somatic symptom disorder is not caused by a specific disability or injury, there is no known cause. However, it is considered a mental health condition and a litany of factors could play a role, such as:

  • Genetic Factors
  • Family influence
  • Personality traits
  • Decreased awareness of emotions or problems processing emotions
  • Learned behavior

While this condition is somewhat uncommon, Veterans may suffer from conditions considered risk factors for somatic symptom disorder. Mayo clinic defines the following as risk factors:

  • Anxiety or depression
  • Recovering from a medical condition
  • Increased likelihood of developing a medical condition
  • Stress, trauma, or violence
  • Low education and socio-economic status

When looking at Veterans specifically, it is important to note that anxiety and depression are risk factors. Both are prevalent mental health conditions for prior servicemembers and could be a leading cause of somatic symptom disorder among Veterans.

Somatic Symptom Disorder and VA Disability

Veterans looking to receive VA disability for somatic symptom disorder should note that the condition is considered a mental health condition in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-V).

Like all disabilities, a Veteran must first establish service connection to receive VA disability for somatic symptom disorder. To establish service connection, a Veteran must provide the VA the following:

  1. A current medical diagnosis for somatic symptom disorder
  2. An in-service event, injury, or illness
  3. A medical nexus connecting the in-service condition to your current somatic symptom disorder diagnosis

If a Veteran can prove all three elements listed above, they should receive a disability rating for the condition.

Berry Law – America’s Veterans Law Firm

Berry Law is America’s Veterans Law Firm, and your fire support team to battle the VA. The team at Berry Law is committed to helping every Veteran receive all the disability benefits they earned. Why? The firm was founded in 1965 by Vietnam Veteran John Stevens Berry, Sr. Originally focused on criminal defense work, Berry noticed many of his fellow Veterans in legal trouble due to the mental health conditions they developed in service.

So, Berry started helping his peers in their fight for disability benefits. The firm is now run by Army Veteran John Stevens Berry, Jr., and features attorneys from the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps. If you need a Veteran in your fight for disability benefits, call Berry Law for a free case evaluation.