August 27, 2018, Washington, DC ~ Bergmann & Moore attorneys obtained a favorable appeal outcome for a Vietnam War Veteran seeking individual unemployability (IU) benefits and an increased rating for his service-connected posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
In 2012, the Nebraska Veteran filed his initial disability claim only for PTSD, and the local VA Regional Office (RO) granted him service connection at zero percent. After his appeal, the RO increased his rating to 10 percent in 2013. The Veteran had one condition rated 60 percent, and a combined rating of 80 percent, thus meeting the eligibility requirements for IU. He then filed for IU in August 2012, alleging his service-connected PTSD, diabetes, kidney disease, and heart disabilities prevented him from working since July 2011.
In December 2012, he appealed the RO denial to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals (Board) located in Washington, DC. In September 2017, the Board denied his appeal for a higher rating for his PTSD.
Two months later, the former Army Sergeant contacted B&M because he thought the decision by VA’s Board of Veterans’ Appeals was wrong. The Veteran wanted legal representation and to appeal the Board’s decision to the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (Court), also located in Washington, DC.
In August 2018, B&M and the Veteran prevailed when VA agreed to a Joint Motion for Remand (JMR) approved by the Court. In the JMR, VA admitted it made several mistakes:
~ The Board failed to address vital VA evidence and the veteran’s hearing testimony favorable to describing the severity of the Veteran’s PTSD.
~ The Board failed to address VA medical evidence and hearing testimony which contradicted VA’s disability exams. The Board decided that the Veteran was sleeping well. However, the Board did not address VA medical evidence that showed the Veteran experienced difficulty sleeping. He often awoke several times each night, even after he was prescribed sleep medication.
~ The Board improperly rejected a VA compensation and pension (C&P) exam because the Board did not agree with the VA’s conclusion. VA’s C&P exam found that the Veteran was exhibiting more severe symptoms, including panic attacks, memory loss, impaired impulse control, sleep impairment, and difficulty adapting to stressful circumstances.
~ The Board made a premature finding of fact and law when the Board decided that the Veteran was not unemployable, while simultaneously remanding the Veteran’s IU claim to the RO for additional development. The Board made a mistake when it issued negative findings about IU benefits while also determining that additional assistance was still needed before deciding this claim.
As result of the JMR, the Veteran’s appeal was returned to the Board in order to correct VA’s errors and decide the claim again for both an accurate PTSD rating and eligibility for IU.
B&M is honored to assist Veterans with their VA disability compensation appeals at an RO, the Board, or the Court. For a free consultation, please call 877-838-2889, or contact us at info@VetLawyers.com.