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Court Wins

CCK Helps Navy Veteran Win Disability Benefits for Heart Disease

Alyse Phillips

December 21, 2022

Updated: February 16, 2024


Facts of the Case

The Veteran served in the United States Navy between 1967 and 1970.  In 2017, the Veteran filed his first claim for a heart condition resulting from exposure to herbicides.

VA denied the condition in late 2017, and the Veteran filed a Notice of Disagreement in January 2018.  One month later, VA issued a Statement of the Case denying the claim.  Consequently, the Veteran appealed the decision to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals (BVA), where it was again denied.

CCK Hires Medical Expert to Support Veteran’s Appeal

In March 2020, the Veteran hired Chisholm Chisholm & Kilpatrick to assist with his appeal.  CCK immediately began working to ensure the Veteran would secure VA disability compensation benefits for his heart condition.

In December 2020, the BVA remand the Veteran’s case.  The remand was issued because the Board found that a C&P exam conducted in 2017 was inadequate and that the examiner failed to opine whether the Veteran’s heart condition could be related to his service.  As the opinion did not clearly deliberate direct service connection, it was considered “inadequate on its face” and VA needed to gather more evidence for the Board.  The remand meant that VA needed to obtain any outstanding private or VA treatment records relevant to the Veteran’s heart condition.  VA also needed an opinion from an appropriately qualified VA clinician to determine the nature and etiology of the Veteran’s heart condition.

Following yet another VA denial, CCK obtained a medical expert report to support the Veteran’s claim.  In the report, the medical expert noted that the Veteran experienced elevated blood pressure routinely following military service and had an enlarged left ventricle.  In addition, the expert stated that there is definitive evidence that Agent Orange caused the Veteran to experience hypertension, and that hypertension posed a risk for heart disease.  The expert also cited evidence from the Institute of Medicine to support this conclusion.

The Board Reverses VA’s Decision

In February 2022, the Board of Veterans’ Appeals granted service connection for the Veteran’s heart condition.  Shortly after, he was rated at 100 percent for congestive heart failure.  The Veteran was also rated at 0 percent for a scar relating to the implementation of an automatic implantable cardioverter defibrillator (AICD).  In addition, he received DEA benefits, effective from March 2017 onward.  Later, in March 2022, VA also granted service connection for hypertension, with a rating of 0 percent effective from March 2017.

Finally, years after exposure to Agent Orange, CCK was able to help the Veteran secure his rightfully-earned VA disability compensation benefits.

About the Author

Bio photo of Alyse Phillips

Alyse is a Supervising Attorney at Chisholm Chisholm & Kilpatrick. Since joining the firm in August of 2016, she has specialized in representing disabled veterans and their dependents before the United States Department of Veterans Affairs and the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims.

See more about Alyse