November 5, 2018, Washington, DC
Bergmann & Moore (B&M) prevailed on behalf of a Vietnam War Veteran who was denied a higher rating for his Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
In April 2014, the New Jersey Veteran filed a disability benefits claim for PTSD. In September 2014, VA’s Regional Office (RO) issued a Rating Decision and granted service connection for the Veteran’s PTSD. VA rated his PTSD at 70 percent because VA determined his PTSD was related to hostile military exposure.
However, the Veteran disagreed with VA’s 70 percent rating, believing he should have a higher rating because was completely disabled by his PTSD due to his military duties in the Army. In February 2015, the Veteran began the appeal process when he filed his first VA Form 21-0858, called a Notice of Disagreement (NOD), seeking a higher VA rating for his PTSD.
However, in June 2015, the RO denied the Veteran’s appeal. In response to VA’s denial, the Veteran filed a second NOD in March 2016. The next month, the RO issued a Statement of the Case (SOC) to the Veteran and denied a higher rating for his PTSD.
Since he thought the RO made a mistake in his PTSD rating, the Veteran contacted B&M for legal representation in April 2016. B&M then submitted a VA Form 9, called a Substantive Appeal, and the RO sent the Veteran’s claim to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals (Board) in Washington, DC.
B&M took swift action on behalf of the Veteran in four key areas:
1. B&M submitted a VA Form 8940, called an Application for Increased Compensation based on Unemployability, starting his claim for IU benefits. 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. Although VA often denies a 100 percent rating for PTSD, a Veteran can still file and obtain IU benefits that pay at the 100 percent rate.
2. B&M searched for and obtained his previous VA medical records, as the documents provided strong evidence he was unable work due to his service-connected PTSD.
3. B&M assisted the Veteran with obtaining a new medical opinion from a private psychiatrist concluding he was unable to work due to his PTSD.
4. B&M wrote and submitted to the Board a detailed brief arguing that VA should, based on the medical evidence and the law, either increase the PTSD rating to 100 percent or grant the IU benefit.
In October 2018, B&M and the Veteran prevailed. The Board granted the Veteran’s IU claim because VA agreed the medical evidence confirmed he was unable to work due to his service-connected PTSD stemming from the Vietnam War. The Board then returned the Veteran’s claim back to the RO for enactment and payment of retroactive benefits starting in April 2014.
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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