Most veterans are familiar with the concept of a physical injury, such as sustaining a partially paralyzing spinal cord injury in combat, leading to mental health issues, like PTSD. A lesser-known fact is that this dynamic can happen in reverse. Some veterans experience debilitating physical side effects related to their service-connected mental injury, even when there is no corresponding physical injury. These symptoms are usually said to be psychosomatic, as they stem from a psychological issue.
Should your physical symptoms start to disrupt your life, you may want to consider seeking additional support by filing a veterans disability claim. Navigating the VA disability claims process is often fraught with challenges, but our team of highly qualified veterans disability claims lawyers can provide valuable legal expertise and administrative resources to support you. Get in touch with our team at (866) 481-5347 or fill out our online contact form today.
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The VA Recognizes Mental Injuries and Their Physical Presentations as Disabilities
Serving in the military carries a higher risk of sustaining debilitating injuries given the hazardous and stressful workplace conditions. In a veterans disability claim, veterans are eligible to receive financial support for both mental and physical injuries. Many veterans develop mental injuries from their experiences in the military, particularly in cases involving trauma, like from sexual assault, combat, and other traumatic experiences. Common examples of presumptive conditions for mental injuries include:
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
- Chronic adjustment disorder
- Cognitive disorders
- Eating disorders
- Mood disorders
- Schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders
- Somatoform disorders
Mental illnesses can negatively impact every facet of your life. You may struggle to maintain healthy relationships with friends and family, eat and sleep inconsistently, have trouble concentrating or performing at work, and find yourself unable to complete basic tasks that were once second nature due to fear or exhaustion. If you have physical health problems that are a manifestation of your mental problems, this can make each day even more of a challenge.
This additional impairment from physical health issues may be reflected in an increased disability rating that qualifies you for extra benefits. Depending on your needs and your disability rating, you may be entitled to benefits like Total Disability based on Individual Unemployability (TDIU) if your mental injury and its physical expressions prevent you from working a typical job without significant accommodations.
How Mental Injuries Can Cause Physical Symptoms in Veterans
Veterans with mental injuries may also have physical health complications. When a veteran with a psychological condition, such as PTSD, exhibits physical symptoms from the illness, it can be characterized as psychosomatic. Even though the physical issues have a psychological cause, this should not be used as a reason to undermine their severity or the legitimacy of the mental illness they are connected to. Some of the most commonly reported physical symptoms of mental illnesses include:
- Erectile Dysfunction (ED)
- High blood pressure
- Muscle aches and tension
- Joint pain
- Excessive weight loss or gain
- Back pain
- Breathing issues
- Gastrointestinal issues
Veterans who experience seemingly inexplicable physical signs of a non-existent physical injury or illness may grow frustrated after having their concerns repeatedly dismissed by medical providers. This can create a vicious cycle where a veteran struggling with a mental health issue seeks help for the physical aspects of their illness and gets continually rejected because the provider can’t identify a medical cause.
Too often, they experience worsening mental health problems as a result, further exacerbating their existing physical symptoms. Psychosomatic symptoms should be taken seriously, especially because veterans with such disabilities can be at an elevated risk of suicide, substance abuse, and self-harm.
Filing a Veterans Disability Claim With the VA for a Mental Injury
Veterans disability claims offer support with everything from housing to education to finances. To be eligible for this support, you must be able to demonstrate that you sustained or developed a mental injury or illness as a result of your military service, or that your existing mental illness was aggravated by your service. Further, you must be able to identify a specific incident or reoccurring experience that is responsible for your mental injury.
You should expect that you may be asked to attend a C&P exam to assess how serious your service-related mental injury is and ensure that it is connected to your military service. The VA evaluates mental injuries as a collective, so you will receive one disability rating for mental injuries even if you have multiple conditions. The rating scale is 0, 10, 30, 50, 70, or 100% disability for service-related mental injuries, additional benefits like Special Monthly Compensation (SMC) are available to veterans with a 100% disability rating.
In the event that the physical symptoms of your service-related mental injury cause an additional debilitating health issue, you may want to have it re-evaluated as a secondary condition in a veteran's disability claim instead of having it assessed as a part of your combined mental injury disability rating. For example, if your service-related anxiety physically presents as high blood pressure, you may develop heart failure, which could be considered a separate condition connected to your service-related injury.
Contact Our Team of VA Accredited Lawyers For Help With Your Veterans Disability Claim
Too many veterans are deterred from securing the disability benefits that they have rightfully earned due to stigmas surrounding mental health, the inaccessibility of proper care, the complexity of proving a service connection, or the lack of knowledge about the physical symptoms of mental illnesses. As VA-accredited attorneys, our team will leverage our resources and experience to secure the benefits you deserve.
We understand that many veterans who deal with debilitating physical health issues related to their service-connected mental illness feel as though they have been betrayed by their minds and bodies. Our team can provide you with relentless support, demystify the VA claims process, and compile evidence of your disability to create a strong case for benefits.
If your veterans disability claim was denied, you aren’t sure how to pursue benefits for psychosomatic health issues, or you want clarification about what to expect from the process, our veterans disability claims attorneys can help. You can reach out to our capable team at (866) 481-5347 or through our online contact form to schedule a free consultation to learn more about our services and receive legal advice about your claim.