December 4, 2018, Washington, DC
Bergmann & Moore (B&M) attorneys prevailed on behalf of a disabled Vietnam War Veteran who sought benefits from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for nearly 17 years.
In January 2002, the Army Veteran filed his original claim for disability benefits for his posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) with a VA Regional Office (RO). While his VA disability claim was pending, the Veteran was hospitalized during 2002, 2003, and 2006. After waiting more than four years, VA granted service him connection for his PTSD at 30 percent in October 2006. VA also granted temporary 100 percent ratings for the Veteran’s hospitalizations in 2003 and 2006, but not for 2002.
The Veteran appealed because he believed VA’s 30 percent PTSD rating was too low. In October 2007, the RO increased his PTSD rating to 50 percent with an effective date of October 2007. VA also granted the Veteran Individual Unemployability (IU) due to his severe PTSD and other disabilities, effective October 2007. IU compensates a Veteran at the 100 percent rate when it is determined that a Veteran is unable to work due to a service-connected condition.
Shortly thereafter, the Veteran disagreed with VA and submitted a VA Form 9, called a Substantive Appeal. The RO then forwarded his claim to VA’s Board of Veterans’ Appeals (Board), located in Washington, DC.
In December 2017, the Board increased the Veterans PTSD rating to 50 percent, effective January 2002, the date he filed his original claim. However, the Board denied the Veteran’s claim for an effective date of January 2002 for his IU.
In April 2018, the Veteran contacted B&M and sought representation to appeal the Board’s decision to the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (Court), also located in Washington, DC.
In November 2018, the Veteran and B&M prevailed at the Court when VA agreed to a Joint Motion for Remand (JMR). In the JMR, VA admitted the department made several errors processing and deciding the Veteran’s claim and appeal:
1. The Board failed to address three medical opinions regarding the severity of the Veteran’s PTSD. A VA opinion in August 2005 and a private opinion in May 2006 both concluded he was not employable. A third opinion found he was unemployable due to PTSD since September 2004.
2. The Board failed to address 30 instances of suicidal and homicidal ideations, delusions, and hallucinations in his VA medical records.
3. The Board failed to address whether the Vietnam War Veteran’s three separate mental health hospitalizations during 2002 entitled him to a temporary total rating for each occurrence.
As result of the JMR, the Veteran’s appeal was returned by the Court to the Board in order to correct VA’s errors and decide the issues again. The Board must address how the medical opinions, medical records, and hospitalizations impact the ratings and effective dates set by VA.
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 877-838-2889 or info@VetLawyers.com.
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