Gulf War Era Veteran Wins VA Benefits for Conditions Related to Military Asbestos Exposure
Summary of the Case
The Veteran served in the United States Army during the Gulf War Era from August 2002 to July 2003 and from April 2009 to June 2010. He spent about 10 months of his active duty in Afghanistan.
The Veteran filed an initial disability claim in October 2010 for hypertension and reactive airway disease related to asbestos exposure. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) granted service connection for hypertension at a 0 percent rate but denied service connection for reactive airway disease.
In December 2015, the Veteran submitted a new claim for chronic reactive airway disease and requested an increased rating for hypertension. He also requested VA benefits for tinnitus, chronic fatigue, sleep apnea, and occipital neuralgia (headaches).
In a May 2016 rating decision, VA granted an increased rating for hypertension (now claimed a hypertensive heart disease), from 0 percent to 30 percent, but denied service connection for all other claimed conditions. The Veteran filed a Notice of Disagreement in June 2016, requesting service connection for his claimed conditions and a higher rating for hypertensive heart disease.
CCK Helps Veteran Secure 100% Rating for Respiratory Condition
CCK joined the case in early 2017 and immediately assisted the Veteran in filing a protective Notice of Disagreement and procuring additional evidence to support his claims.
In February 2019, VA issued a Statement of the Case confirming its previous denial and denying an increased rating for hypertensive heart disease. However, only a few days later, VA released a new rating decision granting Dependents’ Educational Assistance (DEA) and service connection for reactive airway disease with chronic sleep apnea at a 100 percent rate, effective from December 2015.
Following this significant VA decision, CCK continued to represent the Veteran, requesting an earlier effective date for reactive airway disease benefits and DEA. CCK also assisted him in filing a VA9 appeal for service connection for chronic fatigue and an increased rating for hypertensive heart disease.
In September 2019, the Board of Veterans’ Appeals denied an increased rating for hypertensive heart disease, but remanded service connection for chronic fatigue syndrome. Following another appeal, the Board reviewed the case again in January 2020, but denied benefits for reactive airway disease prior to December 2015. The Board remanded the other issues on appeal for further development by VA.
VA Grants Special Monthly Compensation and Additional Benefits
In October 2020, following the Board remand, VA granted entitlement to Special Monthly Compensation Level S, an increased rating for hypertensive heart disease to 60 percent, and service connection for chronic fatigue syndrome at 40 percent.
VA also granted service connection for occipital neuritis at a 50 percent rate, effective from December 2015. These benefits were all awarded in addition to the already established 100 percent rating for reactive airway disease.
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