Somatoform Disorders and Social Security Disability

Somatoform Disorders – Condition and Symptoms

Somatoform disorders are mental disorders in which symptoms of physical injuries or illnesses exist for no apparent reason. To qualify as a somatoform disorder, the symptoms must not be related to or explainable by substance use or abuse, a different mental disorder (commonly panic attacks), or a medical condition.

The condition tends to be doubly difficult to deal with in that those who suffer from it often endure lengthy periods of fruitless medical examination. The anxiety suffered when doctors can’t find anything medically wrong with a person suffering from somatoform disorder only serves to heighten the mental stress being suffered from the symptoms themselves. Adding to this is the fact that many people are unsympathetic to those who suffer from this disorder once it has been accurately diagnosed, which further adds mental and emotional stress.

Those who suffer from somatoform disorders genuinely believe that the symptoms they are experiencing are real, physical symptoms caused by genuine illnesses, injuries, or diseases. This condition is not to be confused with other mental disorders (or simply poor behavior) which leads a person to misrepresent or exaggerate physical symptoms.

There are several types of mental illness disabilities which are generally classified as somatoform disorders. These include pain disorders, conversion disorders, hypochondriasis, somatization disorder, body dysmprphic disorder and undifferentiated somatoform disorder. Occasionally, a person may also be diagnosed with a non-specified somatoform disorder.

Somatoform disorders are additionally categorized according to the number of complaints and the duration of the active symptoms.

Those who suffer from somatoform disorders can become genuinely debilitated. Though the causes are not fully understood, the person suffering with a somatoform disorder is genuinely suffering.

Filing for Disability with a Somatoform Disorders Diagnosis

The first thing you will want to do if you have been diagnosed with a somatoform disorder and believe you may qualify for Social Security disability benefits is to contact a Social Security disability lawyer. While the Social Security Administration does recognize somatoform disorder as a potentially debilitating condition, and does list it in the Blue Book (the SSA Manual of Impairments), proving that your condition qualifies is often an uphill battle.

Somatoform disorders are listed in Section 12.07 of the Blue Book. Section 12.00 deals with mental disorders on a broader basis, and includes a good deal of information of interest to those applying for disability benefits with somatoform disorder (or any other mental disorder).

In order to qualify for disability benefits with a somatoform disorder, you must meet fairly stringent conditions. In the first place, you must have documented evidence from an acceptable medical source which shows that your condition has lasted for several years and that it started before you turned thirty years old. The duration requirement can be waived if it can be shown that your symptoms affect your ability to see, hear, use your limbs, or make controlled movement.

On top of all of that, you need to be able to show that your disabling condition significantly restricts your daily activities, disrupts your ability to function socially, or seriously compromises your ability to concentrate or stay with tasks.

It is important that you continue to be seen regularly by your physician and/or mental health professionals while you are applying for Social Security disability benefits. Failing to do so runs the risk of making the documentation you are able to turn in outdated, which will result in delays to your disability claim.

You will also want to make sure that you have as much documentation regarding your symptoms over the years, including their duration and any restrictions they have presented to your day to day functioning and to job related activities. Somatoform disorders are recognized by the SSA, but there is a certain amount of room built into the system for the adjudicators to make judgment calls. Because of this, the more evidence you can show (especially documented evidence from a reputable medical source), the more likely you are to be approved for disability benefits.


Your Somatoform Disorder Disability Case


If you are filing for Social Security disability benefits based on somatoform disorders, you should strongly consider enlisting the help of a Social Security disability attorney. The added stress of filing for disability and dealing with the Social Security Administration is the last thing you need on top of your somatoform disorder.

More importantly, you stand a much better chance of having your disability claim approved if you are represented by an experienced Social Security disability attorney. While this is true for people claiming disability for any cause, it’s especially true for conditions like somatoform disorder in which there is a certain amount of ambiguity in the adjudication process.

A Social Security disability lawyer has experience putting claims and appeals together. They know the kind of information the SSA is looking for and which needs to be included in your documentation in order for you to receive an approval. Before you go any farther in the claims and appeals process, fill out the request for a free evaluation of your claim included on this page. 

Additional Resources 

Find Out If I Qualify for Benefits!