Thailand Veteran Exposed to Herbicides Wins VA Benefits After Years of Appeals
Summary of the Case
The Veteran served in the United States Army between November 1968 and August 1971. During his service, he served abroad in Thailand.
In 2013, the Veteran filed his first claim for Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) disability benefits for diabetes, bilateral lower peripheral neuropathy, Barrett’s syndrome, and melanoma. One year later, VA issued a Rating Decision denying the claim. The Veteran appealed this decision with a Notice of Disagreement, continuing to seek benefits for all the conditions he originally filed for.
In 2017, VA issued a Statement of the Case, denying the Veteran’s claim for benefits. In response, he filed a VA9 appeal.
CCK Takes the Case
In 2019, VA finally accepted the Veteran’s VA9 appeal as timely. However, once again, VA denied the Veteran’s claim via a Supplemental Statement of the Case. After appealing to the Board of Veterans’ Affairs, the BVA granted service connection for diabetes mellitus type II on the basis of herbicide exposure. The BVA remanded service connection for bilateral lower extremity peripheral neuropathy, Barrett’s syndrome, and melanoma.
Then, VA granted service connection for sciatic peripheral neuropathy rated at 40 percent, Barrett’s syndrome rated at 30 percent, bilateral upper extremity peripheral neuropathy rated at 20 percent, and melanoma rated at 10 percent with a disfiguring scar, also rated at 10 percent.
Still, CCK knew the Veteran should be entitled to higher ratings. Thus, CCK filed a Supplemental Claim, requesting a review of all VA’s previous decisions.
CCK Helps Veteran Win Benefits Following Years of Appeals
In February 2021, VA issued a rating decision granting service connection for left and right femoral peripheral neuropathy rated at 20 percent. VA also granted Special Monthly Compensation (SMC) and Dependents’ Educational Assistance (DEA) benefits, with an effective date of November 24, 2020. VA, however, denied an the Veteran increased ratings for his conditions and entitlement to total disability based on individual unemployability (TDIU).
In response, CCK filed a Higher-Level Review appeal seeking an increased rating for peripheral neuropathy, peripheral artery disease, chronic kidney disease, Barrett’s syndrome, and melanoma scars, and an earlier effective date for SMC, DEA, and TDIU.
Finally, following years of appeals, the Veteran received VA disability benefits for all his service-related conditions. VA granted an increased rating for diabetic neuropathy, rated at 30 percent, with an effective date of November 2020. VA also granted increased ratings for peripheral artery disease and diabetic neuropathy at 40 percent, effective May 2013.
DEA benefits were awarded, also with an effective date of May 2013. In addition, VA amended the effective date of SMC(k) to June 2016 and awarded SMC(s) from November 2020.
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