The purpose of this article is to give tips on how to file a VA disability claim for Somatic Symptom Disorder, win your Somatic Symptom Disorder VA disability benefits claim and get the highest rating possible under the law, aka Somatic Symptom Disorder VA claim, so you can get the rating and compensation you deserve.
Many Veterans are denied VA benefits for SSD due to a lack of medical evidence with no clear in-service stressor. Please note this is also referred to as a Lifestyle Impact Claim, in that you’re actually filing a secondary VA disability claim for chronic pain with depression and/or anxiety related to your current service-connected disabilities.
Somatic symptom disorder (SSD) occurs when a Veteran feels extreme depression and/or anxiety about physical symptoms such as chronic pain or fatigue. The Veteran has intense thoughts, feelings, and behaviors related to the symptoms that interfere with daily life. A Veteran with SSD is not faking his or her symptoms. The pain and other problems are real. They may be caused by a medical problem; they may not. But it’s the extreme reaction and behaviors about his/her symptoms that are the main problem.
We’ll cover applying for SSD, appealing a SSD rating, SSD evidence requirements, in-service stressors and SSD in-service stressor examples, the best strategies to ensure your SSD claim gets service-connected and rated at the appropriate level based upon your current symptoms and level of occupational and social impairment.
If you need help with your Somatic Symptom Disorder VA claim, SSD increases claim, or other mental health conditions claim, feel free to complete the free 3-step intake below. You’ll get an Independent Psychological Evaluation by a U.S. Board Certified Psychologist, a Medical Nexus letter for SSD, and documented Symptoms on either the SSD Initial DBQ, SSD Review DBQ, or Other Mental Health Conditions DBQ.
==> VA Claims Insider Elite medical consulting program: www.vaclaimsinsiderelite.com
SOMATIC SYMPTOM DISORDER VA Claim Eligibility for Veterans
1. Medical diagnosis of Somatic Symptom Disorder or Other Mental Health Condition (e.g., Major Depressive Disorder, Generalized Somatic symptom disorder Disorder)
2. The Somatic Symptom Disorder was caused or made worse by your active duty military service (“Nexus”) OR another service-connected disability (e.g., chronic neck pain, back pain, migraines)
3. Persistent and reoccurring symptoms of Somatic Symptom Disorder or other mental health condition(s) into the present day (severity of symptoms)
Evidence Requirements: First-Time Filer of SOMATIC SYMPTOM DISORDER
- In-service stressor(s) – what are they for you?
- When did your Somatic Symptom Disorder begin and how is it service-connected?
- Is your Somatic Symptom Disorder due to another service-connected disability?
- Statement in Support of Claim for Somatic Symptom Disorder – VA Form 21-4138
- Buddy letter(s) HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
- C&P Examiner will complete the DBQ for Other Mental Health Conditions
Evidence Requirements: Somatic Symptom Disorder INCREASE
- DBQ for Other Mental Health Conditions – completed by a U.S. Board Certified Psychologist
- Statement in Support of a Claim – VA Form 21-4138
- You’re already service-connected; are your Somatic Symptom Disorder symptoms worse?
- Buddy letter(s) HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
- VA Raters rely heavily on first-hand witness testimony
Evidence Requirements: Other Mental Health Conditions
• DBQ for Other Mental Health Conditions – completed by a U.S. Board Certified Psychologist
• Medical Nexus letter first-time filer – “more likely than not”
• Statement in Support of a Claim – VA Form 21-4138
• Buddy letter(s) HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
Crucial Tips for Your VA SOMATIC SYMPTOM DISORDER Claim
• Service-connection, is the Nexus clear?
• Secondary service connection, aka Lifestyle Impact Claim?
• Pre-existing issues…
• Do you have a medical diagnosis?
• Are you actively seeking treatment?
• Do you take medications?
• What is your level of occupational and social impairment?
VA Rating for Somatic Symptom Disorder – Rating Criteria
Somatic Symptom Disorder claims are rated on a scale from 0% to 100%. The level of occupational and social impairment is what determines your overall rating under the law.
0% VA Rating Criteria for Somatic Symptom Disorder:
A mental condition has been formally diagnosed, but symptoms are not severe enough either to interfere with occupational and social functioning or to require continuous medication.
10% VA Rating Criteria for Somatic Symptom Disorder:
Occupational and social impairment due to mild or transient symptoms which decrease work efficiency and ability to perform occupational tasks only during periods of significant stress, or symptoms controlled by continuous medication.
30% VA Rating Criteria for Somatic Symptom Disorder:
Occupational and social impairment with occasional decrease in work efficiency and intermittent periods of inability to perform occupational tasks (although generally functioning satisfactorily, with routine behavior, self-care, and conversation normal), due to such symptoms as: depressed mood, somatic symptom disorder, suspiciousness, panic attacks (weekly or less often), chronic sleep impairment, mild memory loss (such as forgetting names, directions, recent events).
50% VA Rating Criteria for Somatic Symptom Disorder:
Occupational and social impairment with reduced reliability and productivity due to such symptoms as: flattened affect; circumstantial, circumlocutory, or stereotyped speech; panic attacks more than once a week; difficulty in understanding complex commands; impairment of short- and long-term memory (e.g., retention of only highly learned material, forgetting to complete tasks); impaired judgment; impaired abstract thinking; disturbances of motivation and mood; difficulty in establishing and maintaining effective work and social relationships.
70% VA Rating Criteria for Somatic Symptom Disorder:
Occupational and social impairment, with deficiencies in most areas, such as work, school, family relations, judgment, thinking, or mood, due to such symptoms as: suicidal ideation; obsessional rituals which interfere with routine activities; speech intermittently illogical, obscure, or irrelevant; near-continuous panic or Somatic symptom disorder affecting the ability to function independently, appropriately and effectively; impaired impulse control (such as unprovoked irritability with periods of violence); spatial disorientation; neglect of personal appearance and hygiene; difficulty in adapting to stressful circumstances (including work or a work like setting); inability to establish and maintain effective relationships.
100% VA Rating Criteria for Somatic Symptom Disorder:
Total occupational and social impairment, due to such symptoms as: gross impairment in thought processes or communication; persistent delusions or hallucinations; grossly inappropriate behavior; persistent danger of hurting self or others; intermittent inability to perform activities of daily living (including maintenance of minimal personal hygiene); disorientation to time or place; memory loss for names of close relatives, own occupation, or own name.
How to Get a Higher VA Disability Rating for SSD
- Get an Independent Psychological Evaluation with a U.S. Board Certified Psychologist
- Obtain a DBQ and Nexus letter (if needed) for Somatic Symptom Disorder or Other Mental Health Conditions
- Don’t limit yourself to just the one diagnosis
- Is it possible to differentiate symptoms?
- Do you have PTSD and/or Generalized Somatic symptom disorder Disorder too?
- Secondary Mental Health Claims
C&P Exam for Somatic Symptom Disorder Tips
1. Know what’s in your medical records!
2. Review your Disability Benefits Questionnaire (DBQ)
3. Review the eCFR, Title 38, Schedule 4 for Somatic Symptom Disorder and other mental health symptoms and ratings
4. Do NOT have your best day
5. Be uncomfortably vulnerable…
6. Know your true story cold…and potential in-service stressors that caused or made your Somatic Symptom Disorder and/or other mental health conditions worse.
Need Help With Your Somatic Symptom Disorder VA Claim?
We have a full medical staff of U.S. Board Certified Psychologists, ready and available to assist you with the medical evidence you need to “service-connect” your SSD or Other Mental Health Conditions claim, including DBQ, and Nexus.
VA Claims Insider Elite medical consulting program for SSD VA Claim.
Complete our free 3-step intake here: ==>> www.vaclaimsinsiderelite.com <<==
How to Win Your Somatic Symptom Disorder VA Disability Benefits Claim
Can I get VA disability compensation and benefits for Somatic Symptom Disorder VA Claim?
Yes. The Department of Veterans Affairs will pay veterans with service-connected SSD monthly compensation.
Is Somatic Symptom Disorder considered a disability?
The Department of Veterans Affairs recognizes Somatic Symptom Disorder as a mental condition that may be related to service, and SSD is therefore compensable.
What is the disability rating for Somatic Symptom Disorder?
The VA will give you a disability rating based upon the severity of your Somatic Symptom Disorder, specifically related to your level of occupational and social impairment. If you are considered service-connected, you will receive a VA disability rating for SSD of 0%, 10%, 30%, 50%, 70%, or 100%.
How much does the VA pay for Somatic Symptom Disorder?
If your Somatic Symptom Disorder claim is approved, you may receive up to $3,350.87 per month. That is currently the max that the VA will pay veterans with Somatic Symptom Disorder, if at the 100% rating criteria for SSD.
Can Somatic Symptom Disorder be permanent?
Some veterans may receive a permanent and total rating. If your Somatic Symptom Disorder is not expected to improve, you may obtain the status of permanent disability.
Can the VA reduce your disability rating for Somatic Symptom Disorder?
Yes. Unfortunately, sometimes the VA will lower a veteran’s Somatic Symptom Disorder rating. If that happens to you, file an appeal with new and material medical evidence for Somatic Symptom Disorder and challenge the VA’s decision.
How can I get a 100% VA disability for Somatic Symptom Disorder?
Your Somatic Symptom Disorder must be severe enough to warrant a 100% rating. Many veterans do obtain a 100% rating for Somatic Symptom Disorder using the VA Claims Insider proven proprietary medical consulting process. Get started for free here: www.vaclaimsinsiderelite.com