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Court Wins

CCK Helps Johnston Atoll Veteran Secure Increased Disability Rating

Kaitlyn Degnan

April 27, 2022

Updated: November 20, 2023


Summary of the Case

The Veteran served on active duty in the United States Army from 1988 to 1990, including service at Johnston Island for a period of time.  Upon separation, the Veteran filed a claim for service connection for a heart condition, a left knee injury, headaches, and a skin condition.  The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) denied service connection for every condition except for headaches, which was granted and rated at 10 percent.

In 2011, the Veteran filed for an increased rating for headaches and service connection for a traumatic brain injury.  In 2012, VA issued a rating decision denying the claim.  The Veteran submitted a claim again, this time seeking service connection for memory problems, dizziness, a sleep disorder, depression, panic attacks, and anxiety, in addition to his previous requests.  Later in 2014, the Veteran also filed for diabetes mellitus, peripheral neuropathy in the bilateral upper extremities and bilateral lower extremities, and erectile dysfunction.

Unfortunately, VA denied all the Veteran’s claims.  The Veteran appealed the decision by filing a Notice of Disagreement, which was filed by yet another VA denial of benefits.

Finally, the Veteran filed a VA9 appeal, appealing to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals (BVA).  The Board, however, denied all the claims, leading to a Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (CAVC) remand back to the Board.

Then in December 2015, the Veteran hired CCK to help him get the benefits he deserved.

CCK Takes the Case

In November 2016, following the CAVC remand, the BVA issued a decision on the Veteran’s case.  In the decision, BVA remanded the claim for an increased rating for TBI residuals with headaches and total disability based on individual unemployability (TDIU).  The following month, VA issued a rating decision granting PTSD at 50 percent with an effective date from 2012.

Although the Veteran’s claim for PTSD was granted, the other claims were still denied.  As such, CCK filed a Notice of Disagreement to appeal the decision.

Finally, in 2018, BVA issued a decision granting service connection for diabetes mellitus type 2 and remanded the claims for peripheral neuropathy in the upper and lower extremities and hypertension.  CCK then filed another Notice of Disagreement, seeking an increased rating for diabetes and entitlement to TDIU.  This was denied once again, and CCK filed a VA9 appeal.

In a separate decision in March 2019, VA granted service connection for erectile dysfunction rated at 0 percent and special monthly compensation benefits for the loss of use of a creative organ.PTSD,

Finally, in September 2019, BVA granted benefits for a mental health condition rated at 70 percent, and remanded an increased rating for diabetes mellitus, TBI, and entitlement to TDIU.  Later, in February 2020, BVA granted service connection for peripheral neuropathy in the upper and lower extremities, and remanded service connection for hypertension.

CCK Secures VA Benefits After Years of Appeals

In February 2021, CCK filed a Higher-Level Review appeal, seeking a higher rating for bilateral upper and lower extremity peripheral neuropathy.  Then in April, the Board remanded service connection for hypertension.

Finally, an April 2021 rating decision granted Dependents’ Educational Assistance (DEA) benefits, an increased rating for bilateral lower extremity peripheral neuropathy to 40 percent, and right upper extremity peripheral neuropathy at 30 percent.

About the Author

Bio photo of Kaitlyn Degnan

Kaitlyn joined CCK in September of 2017 as an Associate Attorney. Her practice focuses on representing disabled veterans before the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims.

See more about Kaitlyn