SOMATIC DISORDER & DISABILITY BENEFITS
WHAT IS A SOMATIC DISORDER?
A Somatic disorder can become a disability if it prevents you from working a full-time job. Somatic Disorders are physical symptoms that are not explained by a general medical condition. Also, the physical symptoms are not explained by another mental disorder or the direct effects of a substance.
Have you ever had physical pain and gone to the doctor, only to be told that there is no reason for your pain? If you feel physical pain every day and there is no objective reason for your pain, then you may have a Somatic disorder. Somatic disorders require a diagnosis from a physician or psychiatrist.
If you have a Somatic disorder, the team at Cannon Disability Law can help you win your SSD case. We can also help you apply for benefits online at Social Security’s website.
SOMATIC DISORDER SYMPTOMS
Somatic disorders may include a preoccupation with having a serious medical condition, but your doctor can’t find any signs of it on objective testing. Symptoms and signs may include pain and other abnormalities of sensation, gastrointestinal symptoms, fatigue, a high level of anxiety about personal health status.
Also, it can include abnormal motor movement, pseudoseizures, and pseudoneurological symptoms, such as blindness or deafness. Examples of the some of the disorders the SSA evaluates in this category include somatic symptom disorder, illness anxiety disorder, and conversion disorder.
If you have a Somatic disorder, you may notice the following issues:
- Feel anxious about your physical symptoms.
- Think that mild physical symptoms are signs of a serious illness.
- Visit your doctor for multiple tests and exams, but not believe the results.
- Believe your doctor doesn’t take your physical symptoms seriously.
- Visit multiple doctors, seeking different treatments from multiple providers at once.
- Spend large amounts of time and energy dealing with health concerns.
- Being unusually sensitive to drug side effects.
- Becoming dependent on other people and demanding emotional support from friends and family.
- Being angry when you feel your emotional needs aren’t met.
Cognitive behavior therapy and mindfulness-based therapy are effective for the treatment of Somatic disorder. Your doctor can also prescribe medications. For example, Amitriptyline and certain serotonin re-uptake inhibitors are also known as effective treatments.
MEDICAL EVIDENCE PROVING A SOMATIC DISORDER
The SSA publishes a list of disorders they consider disabling. This is sometimes called the “blue book.” Somatic disorder is found under Listing 12.07. In order to prove disability under this listing, you must have medical evidence. The SSA accepts medical evidence from physicians, psychiatrists, and psychologists.
Also, if you have a mental disorder, the SSA will review records from other medical sources. For instance, those sources include a counselor, social worker, or psychiatric nurse. Additionally, the SSA can accept evidence form other mental health providers. For example, they can review notes from a social worker that you visit for counseling.
It is crucial that you understand the importance of collecting all of your medical records when you apply for disability benefits.
When you first apply for benefits, you should include a copy of your medical records with your application. The burden of proving disability is one you. This is true even though Disability Determination Services (DDS), the state agency, collects your medical records.
The reason you should submit your own records is that DDS may not collect everything. For example, DDS will probably not collect old records. However, old records may be important to your case. They are important because they confirm the beginning of your illness. They may also show your diagnosis and contain objective medical testing.
SSA’S ELEMENTS OF A SOMATIC DISORDER
Below you can find listing 12.07, which contains two parts, Part A and Part B. Part A describes specific symptoms that contribute to somatic disorder. As you can see, the SSA requires you have at least one of the elements under Part A.
Under Part B, the SSA is reviewing the severity of the disorder. To qualify for benefits, you must have a marked limitation in two of the elements. For example, you would need a marked impairment in your ability to concentrate and a marked impairment in interacting with others. Or, you could have an extreme impairment in one element.
An example of a marked impairment in concentration would be not being able to finish a timed task at work. Likewise, an example of marked impairment in interacting would be yelling at supervisor when they are trying to give you job instructions.
SSA LISTING 12.07 – SOMATIC DISORDER
Here is SSA’s listing 12.07 for Somatic Disorder. You need to meet the criteria outlined below in order to be found disabled.
12.07 Somatic symptom and related disorders (see 12.00B6), satisfied by A and B:
- Medical documentation of one or more of the following:
- Symptoms of altered voluntary motor or sensory function that are not better explained by another medical or mental disorder;
- One or more somatic symptoms that are distressing, with excessive thoughts, feelings, or behaviors related to the symptoms; or
- Preoccupation with having or acquiring a serious illness without significant symptoms present.
Extreme limitation of one, or marked limitation of two, of the following areas of mental functioning (see 12.00F):
Understand, remember, or apply information (see 12.00E1).
Interact with others (see 12.00E2).
Concentrate, persist, or maintain pace (see 12.00E3).
Adapt or manage oneself (see 12.00E4).
All elements of the listing, including the severity of your symptoms, must be shown in your medical records. The medical record must also show that you have a somatic disorder that is going to last or has lasted longer than 12 months.
WHAT IF YOUR SOMATIC DISORDER DOESN’T MEET A LISTING?
If your somatic disorder does not meet listing 12.07, there is still hope of winning benefits. If you do not meet all of the criteria, you might be able to win benefits by “equalling” the listing. This means that the SSA will examine all of your medical issues, not just your somatic disorder.
According to SSR 17-2p, an impairment is medically equivalent to a listed impairment if it is at least equal in severity and duration to the criteria of any listed impairment. This means that the SSA could look at the combination of your impairments to see if they are equal in severity to listing 12.07.
For example, in addition to a somatic disorder, you may also have depression. Likewise, you might suffer from an anxiety disorder. Perhaps those additional mental disorders are not severe enough to meet a listing. However, when you combine your somatic disorder with the other two mental conditions, your mental impairments may be as severe as those in listing 12.07. Therefore, you would “equal” a listing. If you equal listing 12.07, the SSA awards benefits.
MEDICAL EXPERT TESTIMONY AT YOUR DISABILITY HEARING
Typically, in order for a judge at your disability hearing to find that you equal a listing, there will need to be testimony from a medical expert. The judge will call a medical expert to attend the hearing. The medical expert then reviews your medical records. At the hearing, the judge and your attorney, will ask the medical expert whether your mental impairments equal listing 12.07. Or, they may ask if your mental disability meets or equals any other listing.
Also, your attorney can ask the medical expert about any mental residual functional capacity impairments that are part of the medical record. If you have RFC impairments, then it will impact your ability to work. It is crucial to have an attorney who understands how to build a picture of your mental RFC. If your mental disorder does not meet or equal SSA’s listing, then you can still win your case by proving you cannot sustain a 40 hour work week. Learn more information about how your residual functional capacity can help win your case here.
CANNON DISABILITY LAW WORKS ON A CONTINGENCY FEE BASIS
If you are seeking Social Security Disability benefits, you should hire an attorney. An attorney can help you apply for disability benefits. Studies show that you are three times more likely to win benefits if you hire an attorney.
In order to hire Cannon Disability, all you need to do is call or contact us. We offer a free consultation over the phone. And, it doesn’t cost anything to call us.
Better yet, it also doesn’t cost you any upfront money to hire us. Why? Because you only pay us an attorney fee if we win your case. This is a contingency fee. It means if we win your SSD case, you pay the attorney fee out of your back benefits. If you do not win, there is no attorney fee to pay.
The attorney fee has a cap or a limit. The SSA sets the limit of the attorney fee at 25% of the back benefit or the attorney fee cap, whatever is less.
We also offer a free consultation. Additionally, we perform all of our legal services on a contingency basis. This means that if we take your case, we will represent you for free until you win your case. At which point, the SSA sends us an attorney fee check from the past due benefit in your case. Learn more about past due disability benefits here. However, if we lose your case, you will not owe or have to pay an attorney fee.
WHAT CANNON DISABILITY DOES FOR YOU
The legal team at Cannon Disability Law can help you document your Somatic disorder. If your somatic symptoms are preventing you from working and you are seeking medical treatment, you may be eligible for disability benefits. You can contact Cannon Disability Law. We will answer your questions for free.
You have nothing to lose by contacting us. We can often tell you over the phone whether you qualify for disability benefits. We ask a lot of questions over the phone. By doing that, we are trying to help you.
However, your information is confidential. We will not share it with anyone. If we can’t help you, we will tell you. Best of all, it won’t cost you anything. We know you don’t have a job because of your disability. But, you still need to hire the best disability attorney near you.
Therefore, hire us. The team at Cannon Disability has over 30 years of experience representing Social Security disability clients. We have won over $100 million in back-benefits for our clients.
Put our experience to work for you. Contact Cannon Disability Law today. We will help prove your somatic disorder entitles you to disability benefits.