December 13, 2018, Washington, DC 2018 – Bergmann & Moore (B&M) prevailed on behalf of a peacetime Veteran who sought disability compensation benefits from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
In December 2014, the Army Veteran reopened his claim for schizotypal personality disorder, a mental health condition, with his local VA Regional Office (RO).
In April 2015, VA denied his claim on the grounds that it was not incurred or aggravated by his military service. VA asserted that there was a gap in mental health care of more than a decade, and VA argued his mental health condition was not related to his service.
The Veteran disagreed with VA’s decision. In March 2016, he contacted B&M, sought representation to appeal his claim, and filed a VA Form 21-0858, called a Notice of Disagreement (NOD), with the RO. Shortly thereafter, VA issued a Statement of the Case and continued to deny the Veteran’s disability claim.
In July 2016, B&M filed a VA Form 9, called Substantive Appeal, and the Maryland Veteran’s claim was forwarded by the RO to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals (Board), located in Washington, DC.
Working closely with our Veteran client, B&M realized VA made a decision based on an incomplete claim file. As a result, B&M took action and:
1. Obtained his complete military records from the National Personnel Records Center that showed several instances of the onset of his mental health condition while he was in the Army.
2. Obtained the Veteran’s complete VA medical records documenting a long history of VA treatment for mental health conditions, including a decade of treatment by a VA social worker.
3. Obtained his work and income records dating back decades as evidence of his severely limited ability to work.
4. Obtained a new and comprehensive independent medical opinion of the Veteran’s mental health. Upon reviewing the totality of his newly found Army and VA records, the psychiatrist wrote a nexus opinion that argued the Veteran’s mental health condition began in and was related to his military service.
5. Prepared a detailed brief and submitted it to the Board along with more than 1,700 pages of newly discovered evidence the RO should have obtained from the Army and VA. B&M argued that the Veteran should be granted service connection for his mental health condition based on the evidence and the law.
In November 2018, the Board granted service connection for the Veteran’s schizophrenia, specifically citing all of the new evidence. The Board then remanded (returned) the Veteran’s claim back to the RO to establish the Veteran’s disability percentage rating and the effective date of his benefits.
Bergmann & Moore is pleased with the Board’s grant of benefits, and we are now turning our attention to ensure our client receives the correct and maximum disability rating and effective date from the RO.
B&M is honored to assist Veterans and family members with VA claim appeals at a VA Regional Office, the Board of Veterans’ Appeals, and the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims.
If you are not satisfied with VA’s rating decision on your claim, such as a low rating, an incorrect effective date, or a denied benefit, then please contact Bergmann & Moore for a free consultation at 877-564-8439 or info@VetLawyers.com.