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Puerto Rico Vietnam War Veteran Prevails on VA Claim Appeal for PTSD

January 14, 2018, Washington, DC – Bergmann & Moore prevailed on behalf of a Vietnam War Veteran who sought disability compensation benefits from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

 

In March 2015, the Army Veteran, who served as an interrogator of enemy prisoners of war, reopened his claim for an acquired psychiatric disorder, to include PTSD, with his local VA Regional Office (RO).  He previously filed a mental health claim in 1989, and VA denied it in 1994.

 

In August 2015, VA denied his claim on the grounds that it was not incurred or aggravated by his military service.  VA stated his VA treatment records were absent for any complaint, treatment, or diagnosis of PTSD.  VA asserted the Veteran was not diagnosed with PTSD.  While VA verified the Veteran had an in-service stressor event, VA diagnosed the Veteran with an unspecified depressive disorder.

 

The Veteran disagreed with VA’s decision.  In October 2016, he contacted B&M and sought representation to appeal his claim after filing his 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 claim.

 

In November 2016, B&M filed a VA Form 9, called Substantive Appeal, and the 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 in St. Louis, Missouri.  His Army records showed several instances of the onset of his mental health condition and confirmed his service as an interrogator.

 

 2. Obtained the Veteran’s complete VA medical records which included information regarding his history of treatment and symptoms supportive of a diagnosis of PTSD.

 

 3. 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 PTSD mental health condition began in and was related to his military service in the Vietnam War.

 

 4. Prepared a detailed brief and submitted it to the Board along with more than 400 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 PTSD based on the evidence and the law.

 

In December 2018, the Board granted service connection for the Veteran’s PTSD. Specifically citing the new evidence, VA found that the Veteran’s new private evaluation “affords…more weight” to the Veteran’s claim.  The Board then remanded (returned) the Veteran’s claim to the RO to establish the Veteran’s PTSD 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.

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